Colorful Kids on Corpus Christi

Youth and families at Emmanuel Church in Dayton got involved in making colorful carpets for the parish’s annual Corpus Christi procession.

Featuring what had to be some of the most colorful kids in Dayton, a procession joyfully emerged from Emmanuel Church in Dayton on Saturday evening, the vigil of the Feast of Corpus Christi, and moved up and down Franklin Street in front of the church, where a carpet of beautiful designs awaited.

Families of the parish had spent the morning dying wood shavings and other biodegradable materials then making the designs to prepare for the parish’s annual Corpus Christi procession.

There’s a job for everyone, said Fr. Steve Dos Santos, C.PP.S., who presided at Saturday’s liturgy and took part in the procession after. “The kids have a great time with this. The younger kids stomp the shavings into big barrels of Rit dye—they go home with red or blue legs. Their parents tell me it takes a few days for the colors to wear off,” he said.

Meanwhile, older kids/teens work on the design, making sketches on Franklin Street, one block of which is closed on that day, then carefully laying out the colored materials to make the “carpets.” The images have a Eucharistic theme, such as a lamb, chalice, grapes, etc.

The making of colorful carpets for a Eucharistic procession is a tradition that often takes place in Italy and Latin America, Fr. Steve said. In some countries around the world, Corpus Christi is a national holiday. Several years ago, some Emmanuel parishioners saw the tradition carried out in Italy and brought it home to Dayton.

Work on the Emmanuel carpets starts after Saturday morning Mass and continues until early afternoon. The last step is to wet down the designs, because the moisture helps hold the materials in place.

After everybody goes home (sometimes wrapped in garbage bags to protect car interiors from the dye) to rest, parishioners return for the Saturday vigil. The procession with the Blessed Sacrament begins after Mass as all pour out of the church either to take part in the procession or to watch and worship from the sidewalk. Knights of Columbus, altar servers and children dressed in their First Communion finery all take part, with all praising God along the way.

Those in the procession walk through the designs, which were meant for that purpose. After the procession, the Blessed Sacrament is brought back into church and enthroned on the altar. “We wait for everyone to get back into church, then have benediction,” Fr. Steve said.

And after that, there are cookies, cupcakes and drinks for all to enjoy outside of the church, “because no good Catholic event is complete without cookies,” he said.