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The Walk with Christ procession in Sydney in 2023 (The Catholic Weekly/Giovanni Portelli)

As winter looms and the temperature drops, procession season heats up in Sydney, with the city gearing up for the incredible sight of thousands of Catholic faithful taking to the streets. Source: The Catholic Weekly.

Over the next four weeks, an estimated 20,000 believers will gather for two major processions – for the feasts of Our Lady of Fatima and Corpus Christi.

Numbers continue to swell in size each year and the remarkable growth and popularity of attendance numbers at these events is the subject of a new documentary by the Sydney Archdiocese.

It explores the history of processions in Australia and why the Sydney faithful, since early settlement days, have embraced the opportunities they offer to profess their faith publicly.

The film features footage from some of the biggest processions in recent history and interviews with Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Richard Umbers and Fr Peter Williams of the Catholic Institute of Sydney and Australian Catholic University.

In the film, Fr Williams traces the origins of processions in Australia to his own Parramatta Diocese, where he serves as the vicar general.

“The first procession [and] first public Mass that was celebrated in Australia was in the early 19th century in Parramatta. People would want to give public witness to their faith,” he said.

Bishop Umbers has overseen some of Sydney’s biggest processions in recent years and witnessed “exponential” growth in the number of participants.

“It makes everyone stop and wonder. They are signs of God, God is present. God is still with us,” he said.

This weekend, thousands of Sydney’s faithful are expected to gather for the second feast of Our Lady of Fatima procession, on May 11, at St Mary’s Cathedral.

Following the Fatima procession will be the Walk with Christ procession on Sunday, June 2. Last year, the event drew more than 10,000 faithful to the centre of Sydney.

The boom in procession attendances in Sydney was first witnessed a century ago at the 29th International Eucharistic congress in 1928. It saw half a million people line the streets.

With the Archdiocese of Sydney hoping to host the International Eucharistic Congress in 2028, it’s hoped the passion for processions will continue.


Thousands set to take to the streets as procession season sweeps Sydney (By Darren Ally, The Catholic Weekly)