Visitation, or “church hopping” in modern parlance, is a long-standing Holy Thursday tradition. There are a few explanations of the tradition’s origins, but the devotion remains the same: the faithful visit seven different Altars of Repose to venerate the Blessed Sacrament, spending the evening with the Lord.
Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Joseph the Worker Parish loaded a bus with more than 40 youths, RCIA candidates and chaperones and headed out to hop March 24. Starting at their home parish, the group visited the Cathedral, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Charles, Most Holy Rosary, Holy Family, all in Syracuse, and St. Joseph’s in Camillus.
Ethan Pare,17, has been church hopping with the parish for several years. “I have a lot of fun doing it every year and I just like being able to go around and see all the churches and celebrate in different ways,” he said, noting the Basilica as his favorite location of the evening.
Donovan Rose,15, echoed those sentiments. “I like going around and seeing all the churches and experiencing God in just such a beautiful way,” he said.
Nick Longo, youth minister, explained the importance and purpose of organizing the visitation each year. “We get to see how God is not just in our own parish. We’re united as a diocese across all these other parishes we traveled to and we see the Blessed Sacrament there,” he said. “The Eucharist is real, alive and present. Jesus Christ is there. Like Father [Dan] O’Hara said tonight [in the homily], ‘As we go forth tonight… try to see the face of God in everybody around you.’ I think that’s what Holy Thursday, church hopping, church visiting, teaches us: that the face of Christ is everywhere.”