Full-Time Adoration on the Rise in the Twin Cities, Yielding Fruit

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has been experiencing extraordinary growth of 24-hour Eucharistic-adoration chapels. Eight years ago, there were just seven parishes with chapels; today there are 37, with 26 more that want it.

Sources say the fruits of the phenomenon are starting to be seen — not least of which is a significant growth in vocations to the priest-hood.

Father William Baer, rector at St. John Vianney College Seminary, reports a “groundswell” of new vocations — twice as many seminarians as 10 years ago when Eucharistic adoration was first started there. And, in 2005, the St. Paul Seminary is preparing for what could be the largest ordination class since 1957.

Pope John Paul II announced last week that the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will address the theme, “The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.” The month-long gathering of the world's bishops, to be held in October 2005, might examine the phenomenon in this archdiocese.

Father Baer said Eucharistic adoration has also had an enormous impact on the seminarians’ spiritual lives and on the strength of their discernment and general growth in holiness.

“Many of the young men first began to hear a vocational call during their own visits to adoration chapels in their parishes,” Father Baer said. “We have not by any means needed to convert the vast majority of our men to the centrality of the Eucharist and adoration; they already come convinced of it. I would say further, why would a talented young man with many other options in life even consider the priesthood if he did not consider the Eucharist worth giving up his whole life for?”

Carol Seydel of the Real Presence Association Inc. in Chicago said nationally, parishes with perpetual-adoration chapels consistently report an increase in vocations, greater attendance at Mass and at the sacrament of penance. The association runs a Web site that promotes and educates about Eucharistic adoration.

According to the site, www.therealpresence.org, approximately 7,000 parishes — about 40% of all U.S. parishes — have some form of regular Eucharistic adoration, and 700 parishes have perpetual adoration.

Seydel said the numbers could be higher, but these are only the parishes the association knows about. She added that St. Paul-Minneapolis; Lafayette, La.; and Kansas City, Kan., are experiencing extraordinary growth.

The fruits of Eucharistic adoration were many and obvious. Vocations to the priesthood have doubled and the people keep coming.

Answering the Pope

“There is more awareness of perpetual-adoration chapels because the Pope has called for it. He himself is promoting it and that's why it's growing,” Seydel said. “Priests who are opening chapels are doing just what their Pope has asked for.”

At the 1993 International Eucharistic Congress, Pope John Paul II said he hoped for “the establishment of perpetual Eucharistic adoration in all parishes and Christian communities throughout the world.”

And, in his 2002 encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia (The Church in relation to the Eucharist), he wrote, “The worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church. … It is the responsibility of pastors to encourage, also by their personal witness, the practice of Eucharistic adoration — and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in particular — as well as prayer of adoration before Christ present under the Eucharistic species.”

For 11 years, Peggy Powell has been helping parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis establish perpetual-adoration chapels. Her own parish, Epiphany Church of Coon Rapids, has had a chapel for 16 years.

Powell said many priests are hesitant to start a chapel because they fear the burden of running it will fall on them. She tells them that Eucharistic adoration is a lay apostolate, whereby lay people are responsible to organize and sustain it. The priest just needs to say Yes to it.

She noted that the desire for Eucharistic adoration gets the lay people praying for their parish priest, another spiritual benefit of the movement. It is also much needed now when many people have stopped believing in the Real Presence.

“I'm edified by the laity who are responding to [Jesus’] call, ‘Can you not spend one hour with me?’” Powell said. “God is reopening the doors of his churches through perpetual adoration. I believe we've been blessed in this archdiocese since Archbishop [Harry] Flynn came, because I know that he was instrumental in the growth of adoration in Lafayette, La. The same thing is happening here.”

Powell also credited Father Victor Warkulwicz from the Apostolate for Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in Bensalem, Pa. He travels worldwide to promote Eucharistic adoration at Masses in parishes that are starting the devotion. He has traveled to Minnesota often to help establish chapels.

Father Warkulwicz said the United States is one of the leaders in the world for perpetual-adoration chapels, and the Midwest in particular is growing at this time.

“At many places I go to, people have been praying for many years to bring perpetual adoration to their parishes,” he said. “It's the fruit of prayer, driven by their desire for quiet time with Our Lord. Many people say their adoration hour is their favorite hour of the week.”

Father Robert Sipe said perpetual adoration has had a “powerful effect” on his parish, St. Peter's in Forest Lake, Minn. He was reluctant to start it but now wishes he had started it sooner than a year and half ago.

“A surprising number of people come, and personally, I find it a great place myself. I'm there two times a day,” he said. “There's a spirit of prayerfulness that's growing in people, and certainly there's a greater sense of peace among them. There is also more frequent use of confession.”

Father Mark Juettner, pastor of St. Raphael's Church in Crystal, Minn., said some of his parishioners believe the chapel has brought a sense of peace and less rowdiness to their neighborhoods.

“When I heard it, it was astonishing. I'd love to talk to the police in the area and find out if it's true,” he said. The chapel gives people a place to go and bring their sorrows, crosses and trials, he added.

“It doesn't remove the struggles of the parish, but it provides solace and strength to withstand them so you don't feel defeated,” Father Juettner said. “What discouragement and despair would come into people's lives without it.”

Since starting an adoration hour two years ago at St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony, Minn., Yvette Woell said she is experiencing a deeper meaning to the Mass and has started going to reconciliation more often.

“It's a beautiful experience to be there; your own time with God for one hour, uninterrupted,” she said. “There's such a feeling of complete peace. It's hard to explain.”

She often subs in the middle of the night and will find four or five people in the chapel.

“People are just drawn to it,” Woell said. “I think people go there for the great happiness it brings about.”

Barb Ernster writes from Fridley, Minnesota.