Synod reveals how parish perpetual adoration chapels set hearts on fire

4 mins read
Adoration chapel
A Dominican friar kneels in front of the Blessed Sacrament within Manhattan's first perpetual adoration chapel. Dedicated by New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan July 30, 2023, the chapel permits registered members of the public to securely engage in adoration all day and throughout the night. (OSV News photo/Jeff Bruno)

PHILADELPHIA (OSV News) — As the Synod on Synodality continues, the global gathering is providing an opportunity for Catholic leaders to share ideas and initiatives — some of which dovetail with the aims of the National Eucharistic Revival underway in the United States.

At an Oct. 12 press briefing for the Synod on Synodality at the Vatican, Archbishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Bamenda, Cameroon, said in his archdiocese that “perpetual adoration is going on in all the parishes” as part of a “Year of the Eucharist” celebration.

“Because we declared the Year of the Eucharist, every parish is building a chapel of perpetual adoration,” Archbishop Fuanya said. “It is incredible … how much time the young people spend before the Blessed Sacrament.”

He noted these perpetual adoration chapels “where the young people go to adore Jesus” provide “an incredible experience” for them, not just in his diocese but in others all over the world.

Catholics in the U.S. told OSV News they agreed — such chapels at their own parishes have been nothing short of life-changing.

In July, St. Joseph Church in New York’s Greenwich Village opened Manhattan’s first-ever perpetual adoration chapel, which was blessed and dedicated by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.

Dominican Father Jonah Teller, St. Joseph’s parochial vicar, said the initial response has been “great,” with “hundreds of people (signing) up to become adorers” at the chapel.

Even close to midnight, Father Teller often sees “two or three or four people there.”

“It’s such a joy to know that there are people from all over the city who have … a beautiful, quiet, peaceful place that they can step in at any moment,” said Father Teller.

Lives changed through adoration

Eucharistic adoration provides a space for authentic intimacy with Jesus, when “great deposits of grace” received from the sacraments are “kneaded into us,” he said. “We’re called to be not colleagues with God, but friends with God. And so that involves spending time with him and letting him work on us.”

Kate Scherer Dominguez, who lives in Rochester, New York, said Eucharistic adoration has had a profound effect on her life.

“I’ve been changed internally, which has changed my life, my marriage and my parenting,” the 32-year-old Catholic wife and mother said.

When a new perpetual adoration chapel opened in July at her Peace of Christ Parish, Dominguez “signed up for a weekly holy hour right away,” even bringing her kids.

“Now that the school year has started, I just bring my baby,” she said. “The graces that will pour forth from Jesus through this perpetual adoration chapel into the lives of people in Rochester will be beautiful. Lives will be changed from regular time with our Lord. Mine was.”

“You go in there and sit with Jesus, and he changes your heart,” said MaryKatherine Bushey, who helped to start a perpetual adoration chapel at St. Mary Parish in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania in 1997. “I know the things that I’ve gone through, which have been some very tough times — I could not have done it without that time with him.”

Bushey admitted the overnight holy hours she has regularly kept over the years have sometimes been challenging.

“I do not get excited when the alarm goes off at 1:20 a.m.,” she said. “But when I go into that chapel in the quiet of the night, with just (Jesus) … it’s peaceful.”

Bushey, who coordinates her parish’s adoration schedule, said one fellow night-adorer told her she had initially thought she was “doing this good thing for Jesus,” but realized after her first holy hour “it was he who was doing the favor for me.”

At St. William Parish in Philadelphia, parishioners urged parochial administrator Father Francesco Maria D’Amico to reopen their longtime perpetual adoration chapel, which had been closed for three years due to COVID-19 restrictions.

In addition, the witness of Blessed Carlo Acutis — whose life was marked by a profound devotion to the Eucharist — helped to drive the reopening, said Father D’Amico.

“Given the fact that the world is a post-Christendom one … adoration is part of a process than can help people become evangelizers,” said Father D’Amico, who recently coordinated a U.S. speaking tour for Antonia Acutis, mother of Blessed Carlo Acutis.

Eucharistic healing

Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, who is leading the National Eucharistic Revival — a three-year effort by the U.S. bishops to rekindle devotion to the Eucharist — told OSV News “the silence of adoration” enables an even “deeper catechesis and experience of the Mass,” which in turn inspires a desire to spend more time in adoration.

Referencing a number of recent comments by Pope Francis, Bishop Cozzens said that adoration “creates this fire in us for mission,” just as the two disciples who encountered Christ on the road to Emmaus experienced.

“When we’re with the Lord, our hearts begin to burn,” said Bishop Cozzens. “I can say it’s certainly my experience that if you catechize young people, if you invite them to go to confession and then you put them in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, then powerful encounters happen, life-changing encounters. And once they experience that peace and that presence that comes from being with him, they want to be with him even more.”

Along with invigorating faith among youth and young adults, Eucharistic adoration can “bring missionary fire to the whole parish,” said Bishop Cozzens.

Eucharistic adoration can also lead those estranged from the Catholic Church to back to the Faith, he noted.

“For some people, adoration is a non-threatening thing,” Bishop Cozzens said. While some may not feel ready to go to Communion, they realized “I can come and sit in silence and be in his presence; and speak heart to heart with him and let him work on my heart.”

He said “that can be a very healing place for people.”

“The closer we get to God, the more we share what he loves; and what he loves is other people,” said Father Teller. “And that will impel us out to serve our brothers and sisters as well.”

Gina Christian

Gina Christian is a National Reporter for OSV News.