By Mary Stadnyk |Associate Editor
Praying before the Blessed Sacrament during Eucharistic Adoration is important to Natalie M. Stone. It’s a form of prayer that she has practiced for a very long time, sometimes weekly and sometimes monthly.
But now that her parish, St. Mary of the Lakes, has broadened from having Eucharistic Adoration once a week to Perpetual Adoration, it’s her intention to visit the chapel as often as possible. Perpetual Adoration, which will now take place in a new chapel, means the Blessed Sacrament is exposed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Sitting there with Jesus, in his presence, fills me with a peace that surpasses all understanding!” said Stone, a member of the Medford parish for 35 years. “If only I can live with him in the chapel!”
Stone is but one member of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish who admitted that Perpetual Adoration is something parishioners have long desired.
And as of June 23, the day in which the universal Church marked the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus, the desire became a reality and a new chapter in the life of the Medford parish commenced with the consecration of a new Perpetual Adoration Chapel by their pastor, Father Daniel Swift.
The consecration took place following the noon Mass as Father Swift carried the monstrance that held the Blessed Sacrament from the church proper to the new chapel where he placed the monstrance in the tabernacle.
“What a blessing it is to adore Jesus, and to look at him and have him look at you 24/7!” said Father Swift. “What a privilege to say that Jesus is being adored 24/7 at St. Mary of the Lakes. What a comfort to know that when life hits you hard, and sooner or later life does, each of us will be able to take sanctuary in the Adoration Chapel.”
Father Swift smiled when telling about how the chapel came to be. Just prior to his arrival to Medford four years ago, he said that one of his last accomplishments in St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel, where he had served as pastor for 10 years, was to make Perpetual Adoration available. In order to do so, a tiny chapel was carved out of existing space from an unused entrance to St. Benedict School and a small room where the weekly collections were counted.
When he came to St. Mary of the Lakes and learned that Perpetual Adoration was wanted, he believed it was a doable goal, bringing prior experience and the expertise of others, including a muralist, to the planning process.
Father Swift noted that up until June 23, St. Mary of the Lakes Church held weekly Eucharistic Adoration in the church on Thursdays from the conclusion of the 9 a.m. Mass until 7 p.m. But often scheduling conflicts occurred when the church was needed for other parish functions, such as morning funerals or evening events, impacting the time when adoration would either begin or conclude.
“All delays of exposition and early reposition of the Blessed Sacrament are now a thing of the past,” he said.
The new Perpetual Adoration Chapel was created in what had been the baptistery, a 16’ x 14’ room that comfortably seats six. The already existing stained glass window depicting the Baptism of Jesus set the theme of the mural that was to be created on the back wall by artist Janice Casper of St. Aloysius Parish, Jackson.
When looking at the mural, the scene to the left shows John the Baptist pointing to Jesus when John said, “Behold the Lamb of God,” the exact same words spoken by a priest when he holds up the Eucharist. The scene on the right, depicts Jesus, after he is baptized. An image of the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, is above Jesus, with the words spoken by God the Father, “This is my beloved son.” Father Swift said he also added the statement from the Transfiguration when God said, “Listen to him.”
“That is what we [should] do in adoration – ‘Listen to him,’” Father Swift said.
Other chapel refurbishments included adding a sound-proof ceiling and custom-made sound-proof glass wall. The room is painted a light gray, has soft lighting and furnishings including a marble tabernacle and altar and pedestals that hold adoring angel statues. A lit red sanctuary candle is placed to the right of the altar indicating that Jesus is present.
Because the Blessed Sacrament cannot be left unattended, Father Swift said that while the majority of time slots are filled with at least one adorer, he hopes to grow that number to two adorers at all times. More adorers are needed in the very early morning hours and on weekends, he said, and anyone who wishes to can sign up through the Eucharistic Adoration tab found on the parish website at smlparish.org.
Parishioners like Stone were pleased to see the Perpetual Adoration Chapel come to fruition.
“Witnessing the consecration was such a blessing,” said Stone, who served on the planning committee and helps to schedule adorers. St. Mary of the Lakes, said Stone, is now a parish where parishioners and visitors can adore Our Lord 24/7, “where we can pray for others, the evils in our world, to heal, grow in faith, and truly pray without ceasing in the most profound beautiful way.”
Anyone wishing to schedule themself for an hour or more each month is asked to go to the parish website at smlparish.org and scroll down to the instructions under “Eucharistic Adoration Signup.”
Dr. Graham Paul Jones, a parishioner for 56 years and co-founder of the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul conference, said, “We have long yearned for Perpetual Adoration in our parish. The blessings flowing from this devotion are happily and wondrously incalculable. The Lord is never outdone in generosity.”
Howard and Joan Gilland, parishioners since 1980, have both participated in Eucharistic Adoration. Now Joan is now an adorer for the new chapel.
“It was very special for us to be there for the consecration,” said Howard Gilland. “The Blessed Sacrament is exposed for Adoration perpetually, any hour of the day or night. It gives us so much peace to know we can come, pray, share and visit with Jesus, to take time to breathe and reflect on what is going on in life, and thank the Lord for all his graces.”