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Bringing Christ to campus

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As Robby Renner sees it, there couldn't have been a more symbolic way to start off the school year at The University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg than "literally following Christ" in a Eucharistic procession around campus.

The senior geography major was part of a group of students that organized the procession and all-night adoration held on campus from 9 p.m. Sept. 7 until 9 a.m. the next day - the first event of its kind at the school. Organizers estimate 50 to 70 people joined in the procession, and there were at least four people praying every hour throughout the night. That's no small feat for a small campus with only 4,000 students.

"I was thinking the next day, 'Wow, Christ was just here,'" Renner said. The event brought the Eucharist into "every part of our day" as students walked to classes, the cafeteria and social events.

Father Christopher Vaccaro first came up with the idea for a procession when he became the campus ministry chaplain last year.

"It was the one thing that came immediately to my heart in prayer," Father Vaccaro recalled. "I wanted to bring the Blessed Sacrament to campus."

Still, "you don't want to do something fly by night," for an event that large, Father Vaccaro said, so the procession had to wait until the beginning of this school year, when he could coordinate with a group of student volunteers. They started planning before the school year even began. It took three weeks to get approval from the administration, arrange a police escort, and for all the details to fall into place.

The spiritual benefits were well worth the effort, Father Vaccaro feels.

"You could tangibly feel the grace there," he said. "There were students crying before the Eucharist."

Father Vaccaro said that one student told him at the end, "'Thanks for allowing me to participate in the most beautiful thing in my life.'"

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015