Story by Dominic Winter
HASTINGS (SNR) - St. Cecilia Parish in Hastings will begin perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Nov. 22 in a newly remodeled adoration chapel just off the main sanctuary.
Bishop James Conley will celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. at St. Cecilia Church Nov. 22, the parish’s titular feast. Afterward, he will dedicate the Adoration chapel for its new perpetual function.
The $50,000 remodel accompanies the major step up from the parish’s previous Adoration program, which operated seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Pastor Father Joseph Walsh said the initiative started with a book-study of “Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic,” which began last Christmas. The idea of perpetual Adoration gathered steam in honor of the parish’s special year devoted to prayer.
“The idea began to ferment in January,” Father Walsh said. “Perpetual Adoration will be the crowning moment of our year on prayer and a symbol of our commitment.”
Father Walsh promoted the program with homilies, the parish bulletin, a set of displayed photographs of historical Eucharistic events, and a talk by a missionary priest of the Blessed Sacrament, Father Victor Warkulwiz.
Meanwhile, a team of parishioners led by Susan McKedy and Margaret Noecker, with the aid of a handbook from the Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association, organized the adoration hours. In the first week of November, volunteer callers called anyone who had filled out a card expressing their interest in the program, to schedule a weekly hour with them. Amy Hamburger, one of the callers, described the incredible response.
“My comment was: ‘This is the best sales-pitch I’ve ever given! Everyone’s excited, and everyone said ‘yes,’ ” she said.
By Nov. 14, all but six of the 168 hours of the week were filled, some with multiple adorers. Father Walsh called the response – around 250 people, or a tenth of the parish, which has 562 registered families – overwhelming. Margaret Noecker agreed.
“It’s rewarding to see people embrace the whole project and the need for prayer,” she said.
“This will reap incredible fruits and blessings for our parish,” said Dave Hamburger, who is one of 24 hour-coordinators, making sure an adorer is always on the 11 p.m.-to-midnight shift. “I can see other people just wanting to stop in on a daily basis.”
The remodel included renovations to the whole south sacristy, including the Adoration chapel and some storage space. Before, the chapel admitted only two adorers; now six to eight people fit. A raised ceiling, enlarged chapel, new paint, flooring and cabinetry were all included in the project.
The parish council commissioned the chapel remodel in memory of Louise Katzberg, who bestowed more than $700,000 upon the parish after her death in January 2013. Nearly $30,000 of the renovation costs came from her endowment fund.
“When you come into a church, there’s Someone there,” Father Walsh said. “Once people begin to experience Christ in the Eucharist, that’s when lives can change. In Eucharistic Adoration, we see ourselves as someone trying to be united with him. They can open themselves to Christ with conversations of the heart.”