Parishioners spend time with Jesus in adoration

By Mary P. Walker
Senior Correspondent

Within our diocese, many parishes offer extended hours of Eucharistic adoration, in which the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in a monstrance on the altar of a church or chapel. Because Jesus cannot be left unattended, parishioners sign up to spend a particular hour each week in his presence. While this responsibility involves sacrifice and a bit of effort to find a substitute when an adorer has to be away, participants cite the many blessings they have received.
St. Mary Catholic Center at Texas A&M University offers adoration in their chapel for nearly 50 hours a week during the school year. Jorge Ruiz believes his 8 a.m. Monday commitment gets his week off to a great start. A busy college student, Ruiz said, “It is my for-sure hour of the week where I will have time to not only speak with God, but to listen to him.” 
Another student, David Miller, agrees, “It really helps to have a set plan and not wing my prayer life every day.” Through adoration, Miller said he has been able to add some structure to his prayer life and foster a spirit of peace.
Because these students and others have signed up to cover their particular hours, adoration is available to those who want to drop by. One student felt blessed that her commitment to adoration would allow her peers, who may be experiencing difficult situations, to stop by and pray in the presence of Jesus. 
St. Joseph Parish in Bryan has offered extended hours of adoration for almost 25 years. Eucharistic adoration is available from Sunday afternoon through Saturday mid-afternoon, including throughout the night. David Elbel is the volunteer responsible for making sure the night hours are covered. He explained that those who volunteer for night prayer tend to stick with the same hour for years. 
“That’s one hour during the week where they can spend time before the Lord undisturbed,” Elbel said. 
St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in College Station offers perpetual adoration, in which Jesus may be adored 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the Eucharistic Chapel. During a recent parish gathering of adorers, many shared stories of the blessings they received when they made time to spend an hour with Jesus.
When perpetual adoration started in the parish in 1998, Tura King chose her early morning hour because it allowed her to get home in time to get her children off to school and herself and husband off to work. 
Although she sacrifices a bit of sleep, King said, “I find an inner calm and peace that I’ve desperately needed during difficult times, such as my parents’ illnesses and deaths, my husband’s illness and stress at work.” Now that her husband is retired and her children are grown, King jokes, “It’s only for Jesus that I would be getting up early on a Friday morning!”
King spends her hour thanking Jesus for his blessings, offering prayers and devotions, such as the rosary, praying for those in need and in purgatory, and simply letting Jesus speak to her in the silence of her heart. 
Father Edwin Kagoo, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, believes that even small children benefit from the graces of adoration. The parish hosts a children’s Holy Hour on the first Friday of the month, which includes prayer, song, benediction and a simple teaching. Father Kagoo explained that just as Jesus welcomed children when he walked the earth, he welcomes children today to meet him in adoration. 
Trying to instill reverence for the Blessed Sacrament in active children is challenging, but their simple faith and enthusiasm inspires Father Kagoo and their parents, he said. 
“We remember how our Blessed Mother used the little children in Fatima to spread the message of conversion and peace to the entire world. Through these little ones, their parents are brought into a deeper encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, which hopefully will transform their families,” Father Kagoo said.
If little children are responding to adoration, what about middle and high school students, whose attention is often distracted by their cell phones and social media? Taylor Schroll, a youth minister with Collaborative Catholic Formation Ministries (CCFM), said the simple, loving presence of Jesus in the Eucharist reaches them too. 
The retreats and events that CCFM sponsors include adoration, and the students kneel in prayer, song and worship. At a recent retreat, Schroll was inspired to see junior high students, without any suggestion from the youth ministers, come forward to kneel in adoration for 45 minutes. 
“It was so encouraging to see them not only be open to what the Lord was doing in their hearts, but willing to make a public move toward Christ and be near to him,” Schroll said.
For more information on adoration opportunities, contact your parish or visit www.austindiocese.org/parishes/find-adoration-times.