Bishop Conley said, “A pastoral letter is simply a letter from a bishop to the people of his diocese. Love Made Visible encourages the people of our diocese to deepen their relationship with Jesus through adoration of Christ in the Eucharist.”
Bishop Conley explained that he has recently felt called to encourage Catholics in their prayer lives.
“I wrote this pastoral letter because God has been impressing upon me lately how important our lives of prayer are, and especially prayer in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. We’re called to build the Kingdom of God—to be missionaries of Jesus Christ. But we have to know Jesus to be missionaries, and that means we need to pray, and especially in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” he said. “Increasing our devotion to Eucharistic adoration could be transformative in our diocese—there is just no telling how much God can do.”
Bishop Conley hopes that Catholics in the Lincoln Diocese will be encouraged in their spiritual lives by Love Made Visible.
“I hope that Catholics in our diocese will know that God loves them, and wants to spend time with them and transform their lives,” he said. “I hope that they’ll know that we’re called to go out as missionaries and transform the world, and that Christ wants to transform us through our relationship with him. Adoration of the Eucharist can be a powerful part of that transformation.”
In recent months, efforts have been underway in several parishes in the diocese to increase participation in adoration of the Eucharist. Father Victor Warkulwiz of the Missionary Priests of the Blessed Sacrament recently visited St. Peter, North American Martyrs and Cathedral of the Risen Christ parishes in Lincoln to invite more parishioners to spend time with Jesus in adoration.
In Nebraska City, the Knights of the Holy Eucharist, a community of religious brothers, recently took a weekend to visit St. Benedict and St. Mary parishes. The goal of the Knights and Eucharistic Adoration coordinator Pam Gress was to encourage more people to spend time in adoration in the chapel at St. Mary’s Community Hospital, which was constructed a few years ago.
Parishes report seeing an increase in participation and interest in adoration as a result of these efforts.
The Cathedral of the Risen Christ, also reports increased participation in perpetual adoration, which has been in effect since 1955, and significant changes for adoration at the Cathedral.
The Cathedral presently promotes adoration before the tabernacle, in the left wing off the main body of the church. However, in an effort to promote adoration, the Diocesan Liturgical Commission and Bishop Conley recently proposed reconfiguring the Cathedral’s Bishop’s Chapel, where four of Lincoln’s deceased bishops are interred, as a chapel of perpetual adoration, in which the Eucharist is exposed in a monstrance.
According to Father Daniel Rayer, diocesan chancellor, Bishop Conley will dedicate the Bishop’s Chapel as an adoration chapel June 18, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Perpetual adoration will begin there after renovations are completed. Bishop Conley will personally donate a monstrance for the chapel.
“The bishop has a desire to promote more Eucharistic exposition and adoration in the diocese. The Cathedral is the mother church in the diocese, and dedicating a space for exposition and adoration there is a good place to start,” Father Rayer said.
In Nebraska City, adoration began in 2005 with 250 adorers. The first adoration coordinator was Murilla Giittinger. Gress took over the job of coordinating adoration schedules since 2008. The chapel currently holds adoration Monday through Friday.
When the Knights of the Holy Eucharist recently visited Nebraska City, their goal was to encourage 45 people from the two parishes – which together include about 500 families – to commit to spending an hour in adoration every week. Their efforts more than paid off.
According to Gress, nearly 70 people signed up for an hour each week or committed to being placed on the substitute list, helping Gress to get closer to her goal of scheduling two people in adoration every hour.
“Once we get two people every hour, then we can start moving toward seven days,” Gress said.
Brother David Mary of the Knights of the Holy Eucharist spoke of the work their community did in Nebraska City.
“(The adoration chapel in Nebraska City) is one of the most beautiful Eucharistic adoration chapels in the diocese,” he said. “It goes to show you how much our good Lord loves us.”
Gress agreed. “We’re surrounded by Catholics and rural people are pretty dedicated,” she said. She also mentioned that many people come from towns outside of Nebraska City in order to spend time in adoration in the chapel at St. Mary’s Community Hospital. One adorer even travels from Syracuse to Nebraska City, a 20-mile journey, for a weekly holy hour.
“We really have a community of prayer,” Gress said. “It’s been such a blessing to our community.”
Brother David Mary acknowledged the work that Nebraska City’s priests have done to lay a firm foundation for Adoration in the city.
“Father (Michael) McCabe and Father (Mark) Cyza are two extraordinary, holy priests,” Brother David Mary said. “They are very supportive and gave us much encouragement to invite the faithful to participate in adoration. We didn’t say anything different from what they have already said in the past, sometimes it just helps to hear the same message from a different perspective.”
He recounted that Brother Julian got emotional while he was speaking from the pulpit.
“He said that he was overwhelmed with the presence of the Holy Spirit during the entire weekend,” Brother David explained. “All of our efforts are the work of the Holy Spirit. If the Knights were using our own words or ideas, then the results would have been much less.”
Brother David Mary observed that many people would like to commit to adoration, but need an invitation.
“One of the best ways to increase adorers is to invite your friends to join you during your holy hour,” Brother David Mary said. “One parishioner at St. Mary’s Parish commented, ‘I have been thinking about Eucharistic Adoration for a while, it is now time to turn decision into action!’”
Bishop Conley’s pastoral letter touted the spiritual fruit of regular commitment to Eucharistic adoration. Bishop Conley said, “Especially now, when we are so distracted by the noise of our technology, sitting in silence with the Lord is refreshing, life-changing, and heart-changing. The truth is that sitting in silence with the Lord is necessary for a fruitful Catholic life. I want all Catholics to know that we don’t need to be afraid to spend time in silence with Jesus—that He’s waiting to love us and transform our hearts and lives.”