Late-night adorers cherish quiet time in prayer at Michigan churches

3 mins read
Eucharistic Adoration
Karen Flint, who coordinates the 24/7 adoration chapel at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Newport, Mich., prays before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle at 5 a.m., July 27, 2022. Flint has volunteered for late-night or early-morning time slots since the parish first began perpetual eucharistic adoration in the 1980s. (CNS photo/Dan Meloy, Detroit Catholic)

NEWPORT, Mich. (CNS) — As Karen Flint pulls into the St. Charles Borromeo parking lot in Newport, it’s pitch black, and the sun won’t rise for another two hours.

The main parking lot lights are turned off so as not to attract the gnats that plague the area during the summer months.

Guided by the flashlight from her cellphone, Flint navigates the steps to the door of the parish adoration chapel, types in a code, walks into a foyer and signs her name in the schedule book. Then she walks into a room where she says the Lord is waiting for her.

It’s 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and hardly a soul is awake in town while Flint is praying in a silence that reflects the calm of the world still awaiting the dawn.

“It’s quiet, peaceful,” Flint told the Detroit Catholic, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Detroit. “Often, I just turn the lights off, sit with a candle glowing, looking at the tabernacle or Jesus on the cross. It’s all very peaceful.”

Flint and her husband started going to Eucharistic adoration at their parish in 1989 when they initially signed up for the 1-2 a.m. shift.

“We had small children, so he would go or I would go. He was working a swing shift at the time, so this hour was good if he was getting off the afternoon shift at work,” she said. “If he was on a different shift, I would go, and he’d be home while the children were asleep. So it was good for us.”

Recently, the Archdiocese of Detroit launched, an interactive listing of Eucharistic adoration sites across the archdiocese. Several parishes offer 24/7 Eucharistic adoration, other parishes post regular adoration hours during certain days of the week, or at a certain time every day of the week.

Edmund Bechard of St. Charles Borromeo started going to adoration in the 1990s. He signed up for the 3 a.m. time slot because his job at Detroit Edison only gave him the middle of the night as his free time.

“I really like the quiet time,” he said. “When we started perpetual adoration, we had a priest come to the parish and talk about how very pleasing it is to God that someone would take the middle of the night, because that is hard to cover, and we wanted to cover all the hours.”

Bechard said adoration allows him to clear his mind and just pray in the presence of the Lord. He would usually pray a Rosary but sometimes he would sing hymns or just sit in silence and contemplation.

After his retirement from Detroit Edison, he kept the 3 a.m. time slot for Fridays and Saturdays. He doesn’t even set an alarm clock anymore but prays to his guardian angel to wake him up in time.

Bechard said he keeps his family in his prayers when at the Eucharistic chapel, in particular his wife, Karen, who died six years ago after battling kidney disease and developing cancer.

Karen went through three treatments of chemotherapy before the doctors stopped because she was so sick. But cancer started to subside, to which Bechard credits his time in adoration and praying at the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit.

Karen lived three years after her cancer diagnosis before succumbing to kidney disease, but Bechard attributes those three years to the intercession of Blessed Solanus and the strength he and his wife gained through his time spent in adoration.

“Going to adoration in the middle of the night, whenever everyone else was asleep, really helped me a great deal,” Bechard said. “I felt this peace. It was therapeutic. I looked forward to having that hour to reconnect with God on a personal level. In our loud, busy world, it was a wonderful experience that I needed in that time of my life.”

While parishes do appreciate volunteers signing up for dedicated time slots, those who wish to attend adoration at a 24/7 chapel don’t have to sign up, Flint said. In most cases, they can simply call the parish office for an access code.

Even those wary of signing up for a full hour can gain a lot of graces from even praying before the Lord for five or 15 minutes, Flint said.

“If you have five minutes, 10 minutes, that’s all it takes,” she said. “I think a person who finds themselves spending just a little bit of time with the Lord will eventually find more time for it.”

Even parishes that don’t have a perpetual adoration chapel are using the current Eucharistic Revival in the U.S. as a chance to introduce the practice to the faithful with special events.

St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Allen Park is hosting “24 Hours with the Lord” event on Aug. 4-5 where each hour will feature a different devotion, music or prayer for people to experience and the church will be open for all 24 hours for people to stop by.

The event will feature local priests preaching from 2-9 p.m. on priestly vocations and a love of the Eucharist, tying in the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Year of Prayer for Priestly Vocations.

“We really want to make this a well-planned, well thought-out event for people to come in and not only adore the Eucharist but hear powerful preaching about vocations,” said Deacon Jeremy Schupbach, a fourth-year seminarian at Sacred Heart Major Seminary who is assigned to St. Frances Cabrini for the summer.

“We wanted to come up with an idea where people who perhaps don’t go to adoration could come at different hours and experience adoration in a whole new way,” he explained.

He also said it’s been his experience that prayer is one of the ways God asks people to “make a leap of faith in our lives.”

Meloy is a staff writer for Detroit Catholic, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

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