In this photo the priest is holding an object that appears to be a staff. What is this called and what is its purpose, symbolic or otherwise?
It is a monstrance – a special liturgical object in which the consecrated Host is displayed for adoration and worship of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. He appears to be blessing with it, which is done at the end of a Benediction service. His arms and hands are covered with a “humeral veil” to show that it is the Eucharistic Christ doing the blessing, and that it is not coming from the hands of the priest.
I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s used in the exposition of the blessed sacrament. It contains the eucharist and is presented on the altar or used during a processional.
Already answered, but yes, it is a monstrance, used for holding a Eucharistic host. It is used in Benediction services, Eucharistic processions, and at Eucharistic adoration.