By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Their parishes may be on the small side, but Catholics in and around Monroe County remain committed to maintaining a day of eucharistic adoration each month, 11 years after beginning the devotion.
“I’m proud of us because we don’t have that many people out here,” said Tony Humeston, a member of St. Mary Parish in Albia. “Every time we think we’re running out of people to volunteer we get people. I think it’s the Holy Spirit at work.”
The Knights of Columbus council of the Albia parish, which includes members from St. Patrick Parish in Melrose, St. Peter Parish in Lovilia and St. Patrick Parish in Georgetown, organized “First Friday Adoration” in 2008. Father Robert Lathrop, who served as pastor of St. Patrick’s in Melrose at the time, offered to host adoration there. KC Barry Hannam, a Melrose parishioner, said the council approached this “from Jesus’ words to his apostles the night in the Garden of Gethsemane: ‘Can’t you spend just one hour with me in prayer?’”
Making it work
Originally, the parishes hosted 24 hours of adoration at the Melrose church. However, safety concerns prompted them to make it a day-only event. Currently, adoration begins after 8 a.m. Mass and ends with Benediction at 7 p.m. with Deacon Ed Kamerick.
Hannam said it is important to ensure someone prays before the Blessed Sacrament at all times during eucharistic adoration. Persons referred to as “anchors” sign up to pray in one-hour increments. Anchors include Knights of Columbus, Altar and Rosary Society members and members of the four parishes. Other worshipers can come and go at any time. Pamphlets guide newcomers, although “you don’t have to go in there and think you have to have an agenda,” Hannam said. “Just go there like you’re visiting a friend; you’re sitting there talking to God.”
Organizers extend personal invitations and follow up to ensure people’s commitment to eucharistic adoration, Hannam said. This starts with solid leadership “from the priest or some organization within the parish.” Hannam and Humeston send reminder text messages a few days before adoration and work to find substitutes when emergencies arise.
Hannam observes that when someone has a last-minute emergency or forgets the appointment the previous anchor usually stays for the extra hour. Joe Sinclair, a Georgetown parishioner, said the time always goes by quickly. “It’s so quiet and peaceful that you aren’t looking at your watch. You’re just there.”
For many of the Catholics who participate in adoration, praying before the Blessed Sacrament brings a sense of peace. This is the case for Kris Sarver, a Melrose parishioner who serves as an anchor each month. She credits adoration for helping her grieve the death of her father.
In the past she chose middle of the night shifts, which she said intensified that feeling of mystery and peace. Now she takes the hour after 8 a.m. Mass. “There is a special sweetness to it, too, having Jesus inside of me, transforming me, while he is also there with me, loving me through the mystery of the monstrance.”
Joan Navin, another Melrose parishioner, regularly chooses the 3 p.m. time slot. “I can wind down my day and sit there quietly and reflect on what I’m praying about.”
Sinclair, a “free agent” who fills in gaps in the schedule, said the peacefulness and intensity of prayer is “really elevated when you’re in the presence of the sacrament.”
Adding adoration to the parish schedule
A number of parishes in the Diocese of Davenport offer eucharistic adoration. For parishes thinking about offering adoration, don’t worry about the possibility of failing, Hannam said. He encourages parishes to start small by offering adoration for two or three hours and adding more time if the interest exists. “Some of the people I thought would never join up did. It surprises me yet today.”
Humeston believes that with enough enthusiasm, any parish, big or small, can make eucharistic adoration work.