SIMPSONVILLE — In 1994, parishioners at St. Mary Magdalene Church decided to begin perpetual adoration of the Eucharist, so they called on Missionaries of the Most Blessed Sacrament priest Joseph De Luca. When the parish was ready for a renewal of the ministry 11 years later, they called on Father De Luca again.
“This is what I was ordained to do,” the priest told The Miscellany, following one of his weekend homilies on June 11. “Perpetual adoration is fantastic. Its graces and blessings transform a parish and build the spiritual community.”
He warns, however, that perpetual adoration — with a consecrated host exposed and adored by at least one person in a special chapel for 24 hours a day, seven days a week — is not a minor commitment by a parish. It is not for a day or a month or a year, he said; it is for always.
No one knows that better that Hazen K. Fell, a leader in the movement at Mary Magdalene since the beginning and now the person in charge.
“We are constantly working on attrition. People get sick or die or move away. It’s as if the devil knows how powerful this ministry is and does what he can to make it difficult,” he said.
Mary Ryan-Morris appreciates the difficulty of getting to church for her hour every week, even though she’s been doing it for 11 years. She also sees the effect of the effort.
“It has made a difference in my life. It gives me the opportunity to refocus every week and makes me much more appreciative of what God has given us,” Ryan-Morris said.
She called it a special blessing for her church and said that she enjoys her personal time in front of the Eucharist as she does her community celebrations at Mass.
Jim and Jeanne Gullic have been combining the personal and the communal by adoring together for nine years.
“I cannot imagine not doing it,” said Jim Gullic. “It’s peaceful, especially in the middle of the night.”
The Gullics adore until 3 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Jeanne Gullic said that their time in the presence of the Eucharist renews her spirit.
“Once I was upset with work and wondering if I could continue with it. But I came out of the Adoration Chapel renewed. I decided that I wasn’t going to let work get me down and it hasn’t since,” she said.
Tony J. Amato agrees that the adoration process — kneeling or sitting with the exposed Blessed Sacrament in contemplative prayer — brings a sense of peace and contentment to an adorer’s life.
“The cares seem to fall from my shoulders,” he said.
Two years ago, Amato had an experience that convinced him — if he needed convincing — that he could never give up his part in the ministry. His teenage son’s girlfriend was in an automobile wreck on the way home one night. His son wanted to go to the hospital, but Amato was afraid that doctors and nurses wouldn’t let him into the intensive care ward while they were treating the seriously injured girl. Instead, father and son went to church and prayed in the Adoration Chapel in front of the Eucharist.
“No sooner did we get back home when we heard that she was doing better and was out of danger. The timing was remarkable,” Amato said.
Father De Luca said that he has documented instances of religious vocations attributable to the special blessings that issue from adoration. He said that spending an hour or two each week in front of the Eucharist is something that every Catholic should consider: “We are, after all, a pilgrim people and adoration is part of our pilgrimage.”
Fell said that he would like to go to daily Mass but is constrained because of his work with a major computer company.
“I can almost hear God saying: ‘I know you’re busy. I’ll wait for you here when you get time.’ I’d be embarrassed if I couldn’t get up once a week and spend an hour with Christ,” Fell said.
He said that the Perpetual Adoration Renewal Weekend was scheduled at Mary Magdalene to coincide with the Year of the Eucharist. Laity at the upstate parish administers the 24/7 ministry and Fell considers it a core work of the Catholic Church.