St. Mary’s in Dazey continues 115-year Corpus Christi tradition

by Paul Braun | New Earth

Father Sean Mulligan, Pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Dazey, leads the parish’s annual Corpus Christi procession on June 22. (Paul Braun | New Earth)

Nestled in the woods about five miles east of the tiny, town of Dazey, about a half-hour’s drive northwest of Valley City, is the little, off-the-road Catholic church of St. Mary’s. Weekly Mass attendance is small but steady year-round, although attendance picks up a little during the summer months thanks to campers and vacationers from nearby Lake Ashtabula Recreation Area.

However, on one Saturday each year, worshippers fill the church to capacity; a male-choir sings and chants Latin and traditional hymns, and the congregation forms a procession honoring the Holy Eucharist. For 115 years, parishioners at St. Mary’s have held their procession through the woods surrounding the church on the feast of Corpus Christi. For many in attendance, the procession is a chance to not only honor our Lord but an opportunity to reunite with relatives and carry on a family tradition.

“I came all the way from Houston, Texas,” said Bill Berger, part of one of the parish’s prominent families.

The Corpus Christi procession is a time-honored tradition that brings families together each year for the Mass, the procession, and a meal afterwards. The procession is such an important tradition that when heavy rain threatened to cancel it about five years ago, worshipers would have no part of canceling, and were prepared to carry on in the downpour. Miraculously, the rain stopped just in time for the procession to take place.

Strolling through the tiny, well-kept cemetery behind the church, names of prominent, pioneer families of St. Mary’s stand out: Amann, Eberle, Weiland, Kunze, Berger, Reidman, among others. Many of these families were founding members of this church established in 1899. Most of those attending the Corpus Christi celebration are descendants of those founding families and are determined to keep the tradition of celebrating Corpus Christi at St. Mary’s alive for generations to come.