In one of the bleakest weeks in recent history, Jesus went out for a walk in midtown Manhattan.

As a shocked world shared blood-soaked images and heartbroken voices told unspeakable tales of evil — even those to believe in God wondered where He was. 

As America struggled to process events unfolding in Israel, something happened, just for a few moments, that stopped New Yorkers in their tracks. They craned their necks to get a look and fished out their phones to record what they saw on the streets of Manhattan on Tuesday, October 10. 


Tim Busch of the Napa Institute says that a few years ago, the Holy Spirit was bugging him. He had been organizing a “Eucharistic Procession” in California for several years, but felt the Spirit nudging him to head to the streets of New York. 

Three years ago, when he organized the first procession here of the Holy Eucharist, carried aloft by a bishop and followed by priests and nuns, the gathering drew a hundred people, last year he did it again and several hundred people came. 

This year, with a mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the intense social media following of Fr. Mike Schmitz from Minnesota, who was giving the homily, thousands packed the pews of St. Pat’s at the mass that preceded the event.

A college youth minister from Minnesota, Fr. Mike’s “Bible in a Year” podcast has a following of millions on the Hallow app. You could feel their presence as they packed the pews and jammed into the aisles of the cathedral. Like many in the crowd, a young man next to me in a Vineyard Vines shirt, carrying a backpack, readied his iPhone on record, eager to capture the whole experience.

In his typical regular-guy manner, Fr. Mike began his homily by looking out at the standing room only crowd and said, “Wow. This is intimidating!” Everyone laughed. 


In his homily, he spoke of the first reading the congregation heard, about the prophet Jonah’s reluctant trip to Nineveh. God asked Jonah three times to go preach to the hostile, unfaithful crowded city there and give them a message they did not want to hear — that “in 40 days Nineveh would be destroyed” if they did not repent.

Fr. Mike told the congregation that he felt like Jonah. The truth was, he said, he hadn’t really wanted to come to Manhattan. He did not want to go out into the streets of New York, where Jesus was likely to go unnoticed, be misunderstood, or even hated. 

“When we go out there, people will stare, they won’t have any idea what we are doing” he said. He wasn’t anxious to “ambush them with the Lord,” but then he said, “it isn’t what we might want to do, but it’s what we need to do.”

He said Jesus was simply saying to us, as he said to Jonah, “Go out there, and bring me with you.”

As the mass ended, and it was time to process, I didn’t really want to go out there either. It was one thing to be a Catholic inside St Patrick’s, it was another to do it walking down Broadway. 

I wasn’t entirely sure what had drawn me here in the first place. I wanted to disappear in the crowd, and watch it all, a reporter blending in, just there to see what would happen.


I watched as the priests reverently transferred the Holy Eucharist, the body of Christ, into what looked like a big, beautiful gold star at the top of a high staff — the bishop then held this large, heavy star aloft under a gold and white canopy held by more priests at its four corners. They began slowly to walk down the aisle and through the enormous upward arching bronze doors, now open to all of Fifth Avenue, as light streamed through, to the top of the steps of St. Pat’s.

I bee-lined down a side aisle and out onto the steps, amazed at how many New Yorkers had already gathered. They covered the steps, spilled onto the street, across the street. 

The priests, the choir singing, the gold star — it was a spectacle and New Yorkers love spectacles. But the amazing thing was the curiosity, the quizzical faces, the wonder in some eyes, and the busy city folks on their way to and from this and to that — who stopped and watched, who got out their phones and recorded the sight. Some ran to get to the front to see what was up there. 

A young priest next to me said, “this is quite a witness.” Yes, it is, I nodded. 

He was right. Everyone was witnessing. 

I looked up and saw, block after block, workers in offices coming to their windows to look down and see what was happening. Many people were taking out their phones to record it all. 

Was it because they knew Jesus was passing by? Probably not. As Fr. Mike had said, when Jesus carried his cross through the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem, a moment like no other, it is unlikely that most who witnessed it thought too much of it. Most likely, it was just another criminal meeting his punishment.


It was the stillness and the quiet in the streets on that balmy, fall evening as twilight’s glow bathed the city, that struck me most. 

It was so peaceful, so absolutely still, as we walked under the neon lights of Radio City Music Hall, then turning left and going down Broadway under its spinning lights and flashing show signs, walking behind Jesus, and a parade of priests and nuns, as New York stopped to see. 

It didn’t feel like any other New York moment I can remember. As Fr. Mike had said, maybe they will stop and ask, “Who is that? What are they doing?” Perhaps they may think, he said, “does He love me so much, that He came out here in the street to find me where I am?”

Sometimes when there is something tugging at you, that you may not want to do, be like Jonah, and go anyway. 

Something may happen, and you will want to see it and feel it. Especially this week, as the world searches for answers. 

Like 9/11, we remember the agony, the pain, but we also remember the love, of those days and weeks. The stories and the heroism are what keeps us going. 

Sometimes, even in the midst of that bleakness, there’s a little bit of a miracle in the streets.