Diocese of Gary faithful celebrate Jesus in the Eucharist

As the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage continued through the Diocese of Gary on July 2, thousands of the faithful reached out to participate, some even joining the procession for a time as it wound through Schererville, Hobart and Gary.
The second day of the five-day visit began in Schererville, at St. Michael the Archangel, with morning Mass attended by 250.
Father Martin Dobrzynski, celebrant and pastor, said he used the regular Mass readings because "I’m a firm believer that God speaks to us when we don't want to hear."
In his homily, he said people sometimes do not want to hear about the importance of stepping outside their comfort zone to serve the less fortunate. “God nourishes us with his body and blood in order to love. He acted out of compassion, as we are called to do.
“The greatest devotion we can show is not when we are praying; it is when we leave here and what we do when we encounter others…to bring peace and calm to their lives,” he continued.
Tonya Meagher, of St. Bridget in Hobart, was joined by her sister Molly Buttermore, of Rockford, Mich. at the Schererville liturgy. The duo said they would walk as many of the miles from St. Michael to Portage as possible.
“Who doesn’t have a ton of intercessions and reparations to pray for?” asked Buttermore. “I will be praying along the way.”
Meagher appreciated the message and the music. The Eucharistic songs of "Taste and See" and "One Bread, One Body" were so beautiful. "I just love the atmosphere here," she said. 
Led by choir members, music from the Mass was carried through the streets as pilgrims continued to sing as they traversed one mile to Redar Park.
St. Michael parishioner Barb Ristich said she is "here for Jesus." She walked from St. Michael to the Schererville park with her daughter, her grandchildren and her great nieces and nephews. "It's beautiful to give witness to Our Lord, the body and blood of Christ. It is so important for the world to recognize his presence. We need to celebrate him and bring his presence to all the world. Unfortunately, people have lost an understanding of the True Presence. Taking these steps for Jesus and the Catholic faith is so important. I love seeing the young people.”
Another St. Michael parishioner, Henry "Hank" Blake, was moved by the Mass and the involvement of the diocese in all aspects of the pilgrimage. “We just gathered and rested in this space with Our Lord,” he said.
Matthew Heidenreich, 20, of Columbus, Ohio, became a perpetual pilgrim because he was impacted by the Euchrarist during a procession. “My first encounter with the Lord was through a pilgrimage when I was 14,” he said. “It was really a turning point in my life. I want to share that with the rest of the country. It is such a blessing to watch a revival happen, a real encounter with Our Lord.”
While God’s generosity can never be outdone, Heidenreich said, it is the generosity of others that fills his cup. “We get tired,” he said. “We’re human, but we rest and are refreshed every day. People take care of us, and we are able to attend Mass every day, that banquet of Our Lord. We are busy, but we rest and have silence with God in the gaps.”
After beginning the Marian Route of the pilgrimage in northern Minnesota, Heidenreich is coming to terms with the conclusion of the National Eucharistic Revival, he hopes that the seed that has been planted will bloom. “Our Eucharistic Lord is always here. He is in every tabernacle just waiting for us. He deeply desires for us to give ourselves to Him. He is searching for us. All we have to do is seek him.”
After a full day of walking an estimated 14 miles along the Oakld Savannah and Prairie Duneland trails to Portage, the perpetual pilgrims bringing Jesus to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis took a break as evening activities moved to Gary.
“Gary takes the cake for offering the longest procession in one day,” perpetual pilgrim Mason Bailey, a seminarian from Fort Wayne said of the July 2 hike. “What was great about it was that it led to a lot of great encounters along the way with some of the people who joined us, about 50, I’d say.”
Added perpetual pilgrim Jennifer Torres, of Denver, Colo., “It was beautiful; people came from all over.”
Set to visit his home diocese, South Bend/Fort Wayne, next, Bailey said he was hoping for a large crowd to gather for the procession to Sacred Heart Basilica on the University of Norte Dame campus. “Many of the parishes we will visit are ones I have never been to, a lot of them in rural areas, so we are bringing Jesus everywhere.”
Perpetual pilgrim Danielle Schmitz, of Washington, D.C., said she has been “blown away and bucked up by people coming from all over the country to walk with the Lord. In some of the small towns, our pilgrimage literally doubled the population. People are saying, ‘I don’t have much to give, but I will give all of my time to Jesus.”
At St. Mary of the Lake near the Lake Michigan shore, the four Gary parishes hosted an evening prayer service highlighting the diversity of Northwest Indiana, inviting choirs to praise God with hymns and songs in five different languages.
Tagalog was the Filipino Choir’s chosen language, while a group of St. Joseph the Worker parishioners from Gary sang in Spanish. A group of colorfully costumed youngsters from the Carmelite Shrine Children’s Choir shared their Polish heritage, while the Dan and Anna Ahern family of Whiting, forming the St. John Cantius Schola, shared Gregorian chanting. The English language was represented by the combined Ss. Monica and Luke/Cathedral of the Holy Angels Gospel Choir and a young adult choir from throughout the diocese.
“This is my parish, so I’m here to welcome the people,” said Judy Tonk at a dinner open to all before the service. Treated to live music by keyboardist Dave Vicari, who later accompanied the gospel choir, and saxophonist Mike Carson of Trinity United Church of Christ in Gary, the crowd met old friends and new as they gathered at the rectory for a short Eucharistic Procession led by Father Michael Surufka, OFM, pastor.
Father Surufka closed the service with a benediction and by leading the congregation in a recitation of The Divine Praises and the hymn “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.”
“The Diocese of Gary has always been a melting pot going back to its earliest days, especially St. Mary of the Lake,” said Father Jeff Burton, pastor of St. John Bosco and St. Joseph, both in Hammond. “Race, language and way of life have not mattered, and everyone has been embraced, so this event is very appropriate.”


Caption: Father Martin J. Dobrzynski, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel in Schererville, prays with faithful in front of the Blessed Sacrament on July 2 in Redar Memorial Park in Schererville, Ind. Following adoration, pilgrims processed along the Old Savannah Trail, traveling 20 miles to Portage. (Erin Ciszczon photo)