CV NEWS FEED // In the midst of the National Eucharistic Revival, Jeffrey Bruno, who makes it his mission to photograph as many processions as possible, says he has witnessed an “explosion” of Eucharistic Processions in New York City.
In October, hundreds of people filled the streets of New York City for two large processions, and in May, thousands of Catholics celebrated Pentecost in Times Square. This year, the city saw more than thirty smaller Eucharistic Processions on the Feast of Corpus Christi alone.
“We as Church talk about evangelization; we talk about reaching beyond the walls of the Church. The procession is a silver bullet that deals with all of those things because it brings our Faith, our witness to the reality of the Blessed Sacrament and the Real Presence right into the public space,” Bruno told CatholicVote. “How else are you going to get people who don’t go to church to appreciate that except through that witness?”
Pray for me!
Bruno’s mission began about six years ago with a 40 Days for Life event at Holy Innocents Parish in New York City.
“I remember, as the Blessed Sacrament is being carried out of the church and I’m watching all these people line up, I’m like, This is incredible. You’re bringing Christ into the streets,” he recalled.
“I couldn’t take enough pictures,” he said. “This is just beautiful, beautiful, and beautiful.”
One moment of grace stood out to him, even years later.
We’re crossing Broadway and the police had stopped [traffic] at the beginning of the procession and this truck, this big box truck—a 25 foot to 26 foot truck—drives by and this guy hangs out the window and he’s like, Pray for me!
Evangelization through Encounter
Processions are “such a clear way” to evangelize, Bruno told CatholicVote. And these encounters of grace can happen anywhere.
“If it can happen in New York City, it should happen everywhere,” the photojournalist wrote last month in an article entitled The Power of Procession.
“You accomplish so much when it comes to evangelizing the culture and the world and to reignite in some the belief in the True Presence,” he said.
People are encountering Him. The grace is there. It’s not just your witness—you’re showing up and walking out there—that’s a big part of it. It is important because a monstrance doesn’t carry itself, but at the same time, [it’s] His presence being out there.
“It’s the joy. Quite simply, it’s the joy,” he observed.
Bruno witnessed firsthand the power of “encounters along the way.”
“People will be walking and they ‘come out’ as Catholic at that moment,” he said. “They kneel down, they make the sign of the cross.”
When Catholics process together, it’s a “different dynamic” than sitting inside a church because they are proclaiming their faith in a “secular space,” he observed.
When you walk down the street [on] a normal day, especially on a city street, you see people. You might imagine [something about them] based on how they appear. But when the Blessed Sacrament goes down [the street], all of the sudden, certain people light up, and it’s incredible. Then, when you walk down the street when you’re not in procession, you realize that those people are still there. You’re among fellow Catholics, fellow believers: wherever they are, they walk in faith.
A Return to the Faith
Bruno came into Catholic photography after he had a “reversion” to the Faith in the early 2000s, when he was working in a different industry.
I went on this long journey of trying to find out what God’s will was for me, and I ended up getting into web development. Because the Catholic internet was a disaster at the time, I started playing around with that, and then I bought a camera because I couldn’t find any pictures, and then I started taking pictures more and more. Before I knew it, all I was doing was taking pictures.
“I’m no theologian—I was a cradle Catholic, but [with] very limited knowledge, so I feel like a kid because everything is new [to me] which is wonderful,” he explained.
His photography and writing now feature Catholic events: ordinations, religious vows, pro-life walks, and, of course, Eucharistic Processions.
“I think the thing that’s very encouraging about [Catholic photography] is that people are interested,” he observed. “People are interested in the life of the church, and that’s just beautiful. It’s definitely a cause for optimism.”
His Instagram account, with more than 32K followers, features the Sisters of Life, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and ordinary lay Catholics.
The talents, the abilities, the hopes, dreams—everything you have within you—it’s all part of your wiring, how you are created. Those inclinations and likes are part of you and God gave them to you. So pursue [them].