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September 13, 2009

Taking time out to adore Jesus First system-wide adoration Oct. 2

By Pam DeFiglio


Josephite Father Antoine Thomas was sitting in contemplative prayer adoring the Eucharist one day when a mother with small children tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “Father, can you help my little ones to adore the Eucharist?”

That simple request propelled Thomas into a ministry encouraging eucharistic adoration for children, and, in the 14 or so years since, that ministry has grown into an international movement. This quiet form of prayer, which enthusiasts say is like spending one-on-one time with Christ, is coming to area Catholic schools in a big way.

On Oct. 1 at 7 p.m., Thomas will lead children in adoration at St. Mary of the Angels Parish, 1850 N. Hermitage, at which the public is also welcome. And Oct. 2 marks the first time the archdiocese’s 258 schools will gather students for eucharistic adoration during the school day.

“It puts the spotlight on the importance of eucharistic adoration,” said Dominican M. Paul McCaughey, superintendent of schools.

“By adoring together in schools, it says that as a [school] system, we are a eucharistic people. It gives the opportunity for children to experience Jesus’ unconditional love for them.”

Elementary and high school principals will plan how their students will spend an hour in eucharistic adoration Oct. 2, with many going to church or their parish’s adoration chapel. Schools without churches may make field trips to other churches, Sister M. Paul said. Planners are working on two age-appropriate levels of prayer services for younger and older children.

Idea forms

Mary Gail Reding, a parishioner at St. Mary of the Angels who has been a devotee of eucharistic adoration for many years, approached Sister M. Paul last winter with the idea for adoration in schools. Reding’s passion for adoration led her to become an oblate of the Community of St. John, whose members spend two hours in adoration every day.

“I started going as a young adult, and the feeling you get is just unexplainable,” said Reding of adoration. “It’s a one-on-one experience with God. I feel a sense of peace.”

Reding said she has heard of blessings and miracles unfolding to those who pray in eucharistic adoration. These include an increase in family unity between parents and children, as well as positive developments occurring in parishes and neighborhoods where adoration chapels open.

She often guides beginners in adoration, suggesting they walk in to the adoration chapel, genuflect on both knees and bow down before the Blessed Sacrament. They can read a New Testament verse, then sit and ask God questions and listen for answers. Writing the questions down, in the form of journaling, also help many people, she said.

Children especially can readily sense God’s presence in the consecrated host, Reding said.

“In a world that’s so topsyturvy, they can sense peace. They sense Jesus is there and they can talk to him about anything they want,” she said.

Spreading the word

Adoration chapels have proliferated in archdiocesan parishes over the past 25 years or so as adoration has gained popularity. Thomas’ part in that growth has been to advocate for the idea that children can also embrace this prayer practice.

He has developed a program to guide children’s attention during adoration. A mother from Kansas told EWTN about his outreach to children, prompting the first of his many televised appearances leading children and families in eucharistic adoration. He has also traveled to 35 states to introduce families to the practice.

“I definitely commit my priesthood to making Jesus known and loved, especially by families,” Thomas said. “To me, eucharistic adoration becomes the secret of family unity.”