The Daily Nebraskan: Newman Center’s annual Eucharistic Procession brings unity to campus

The Newman Center held its 11th annual Eucharistic Processional on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. Their aim was to spread the spirit of Jesus Christ around the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. Photo by: Jessica Moore of the Daily Nebraskan

The Newman Center held its 11th annual Eucharistic Processional on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. Their aim was to spread the spirit of Jesus Christ around the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. Photo by: Jessica Moore of the Daily Nebraskan

Story by John Grinvalds of the Daily Nebraskan

Led by a monstrance containing what Roman Catholics believe to be the body and blood of Jesus Christ, hundreds of students walked in a candlelit procession praying for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus.

For the last 11 years, Father Robert Matya, chaplain of the Newman Center, has led Catholic students in this public display of faith around the time of All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1, but for the last two years, the attendance has been more diverse. Similar to last year, the Newman Center’s annual Eucharistic Procession, falling on the night of Thursday, Nov. 2, included students from the Lutheran Center.

Last year, some Lutherans joined the procession when Logan Burda, a FOCUS missionary, walked into the Lutheran Center and invited the students inside on a whim.

“I got this interior push to invite them,” Burda said. “It was the Holy Spirit.”

For Morgan Tranmer, a peer minister at the Lutheran Center and one of the students invited by Burda, the experience was extraordinary.

“We were welcomed in so authentically,” Tranmer said. “It was an act of trust between us.”

Tranmer said acts of trust like that are what cultivates unbreakable relationships and that she gained many new insights during the event.

“I’ve found that whatever divides we have between the two churches, they’re self-constructed,” she said. “Those walls are so flimsy.”

This year, the Lutheran Center was asked to join long before the event started. According to Matya, the invitation is a continuation of weeks of dialogue between Lutheran and Catholic students, leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation on Oct. 31, the event that originally caused the two church bodies to split.

Thanks to this dialogue, Matya said the relationship between the Newman and Lutheran centers has improved.

“We have a better understanding of each other, and that’s a good thing,” he said. “I hope that will continue.”

Tranmer was one of the Lutheran students to participate in this year’s procession, and she said she looks forward to a continuing dialogue with the Newman Center.

“After all these years, we’re finally trying to be better at having these conversations,” she said. “It’s important to look at things with a view of genuine curiosity rather than judgment.”

Burda said he sees the growing relationship between the two church bodies as the right step for the Christian church.

“In John 17, Jesus is at the last supper with his apostles, and he prays that everyone who comes to believe in him will be one as he is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit,” he said. “I want the prayer of Jesus to happen.”

The event started with Mass in the Newman Center at 7 p.m. Following the service, students took to the streets of UNL’s campus for the procession.

As they sung hymns and prayed, the procession looped around campus, stopping at altars by the Nebraska Union, Memorial Stadium and 16th and Vine streets.

Like the glow of their candles bringing light to the darkness, Burda said the aim of the Eucharistic Procession is to bring healing to a broken world.

“It’s about taking Jesus to the streets to pray for the campus,” he said. “It’s a way to publicly profess our faith in Christ.”

But with Catholics standing side-by-side behind the cross, Burda said the event is even more significant.

“We want unity, and this is a sign of unity” Burda said. “I hope that we will one day truly have one holy and apostolic church.”

Read the original article from the Daily Nebraskan here