March 10, 2017

Priests reflect on positive influence of perpetual adoration chapels

Two women pray in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on March 6 in the Divine Mercy Chapel at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis. Established in 1989, the chapel was the first parish-based perpetual adoration chapel in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Twelve others have subsequently been started. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Two women pray in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on March 6 in the Divine Mercy Chapel at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis. Established in 1989, the chapel was the first parish-based perpetual adoration chapel in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Twelve others have subsequently been started. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

The first parish-based perpetual adoration chapel in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis was established in 1989 at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis.

Since then, 12 others have been started across central and southern Indiana, the latest being at All Saints Parish in Dearborn County where perpetual adoration was inaugurated on March 1.

Many priests serving in these parishes, who worked with many parishioners in getting the chapels established, witnessed their effects on parish life and experienced their positive influence on their priestly life and ministry.

Msgr. Joseph Schaedel, pastor ofSt. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, played a key role in starting the Divine Mercy Chapel at St. Michael, which is located in a convent between the parish and the adjacent Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School.

But he credits the late Sister Mary Ann Schumann, an anchoress who lived in the archdiocese, as “the instrument” to get the chapel started.

“She just really pushed us ahead to investigate it more,” said Msgr. Schaedel.

Sister Mary Ann oversaw the Divine Mercy Chapel for 26 years until her death in February 2016.

Msgr. Schaedel now leads St. Luke Parish, which has had its own perpetual adoration chapel for some two decades.

(Related: Perpetual adoration chapels in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis)

“It’s a great powerhouse of prayer,” he said. “It’s a great strength for many people who come to the chapel either on a regular basis, or just pop in periodically when they want to pray. It’s been a great source of blessing and strength to our parish.”

And it’s been a source of blessings for him. One of the reasons St. Luke’s chapel was started, he said, was to have people pray for priests around the clock. The rectory in which Msgr. Schaedel lives is adjacent to the parish. He can see the parking lot next to the adoration chapel from there.

“If I wake up in the middle of the night and look out the window, I see a car or two parked over here,” he said. “And I know that someone is in the chapel praying. So I know that someone is praying for me 24/7. That’s a great consolation.”

Father Daniel Mahan, pastor of St. John the Apostle Parish in Bloomington and St. Jude the Apostle Parish in Spencer, was pastor of St. Luke when it began its adoration chapel. He subsequently began another perpetual adoration chapel at St. Louis Parish in Batesville about 10 years ago.

“Many times after meeting with someone who was experiencing a crisis or difficulty in life,” Father Mahan said, “I would conclude that appointment by taking that person to the adoration chapel and praying with them and leaving them there in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and the company of parishioners who were praying there.

“I drew a lot of strength knowing that if I put an intention in the prayer book [in the chapel], it was going to be prayed for by those who were coming to the adoration chapel that week.”

One of the first people to pray in the chapel at St. Louis Parish was Father Jerry Byrd, who was the parish’s youth minister at the time and discerning his vocation.

“I would sit in the back row and pray and beg God to make clear to me what I was supposed to do with my life. And eventually he did,” said Father Byrd who subsequently became an archdiocesan seminarian and was ordained a priest in 2012.

He now leads St. Anne Parish and St. Joseph Parish, both in Jennings County, and St. Mary (Nativity of the Virgin Mary) Parish in North Vernon, which has a perpetual adoration chapel.

Father Byrd, who has seen his priestly life and ministry deepen through his own daily holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, says that adoration can draw all Catholics closer to Christ.

“It affects everything,” he said. “Everybody who would go to adoration would say that. It’s changed their relationship with the Lord and with each other.

“When you go to adoration, don’t think that you have to do anything. Just go in there and be with the Lord in that moment. Let him do what only he can do.”

Father Rick Eldred was an archdiocesan seminarian in the mid-1990s when St. Patrick Parish in his native Terre Haute began the archdiocese’s second perpetual adoration chapel.

Praying in it during his visits home helped him in his priestly formation and discernment.

Father Eldred later started a perpetual adoration chapel at St. Thomas More Parish in Mooresville in 2001, and played an instrumental role in 2005 in establishing one at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Bedford, where he now serves as pastor.

Through the Connected in the Spirit archdiocesan planning process,

St. Vincent has been linked to St. Mary Parish in Mitchell, which is also led by Father Eldred.

He said that the chapel has been a catalyst to bring the two faith communities closer together in its charitable ministries, efforts to strengthen St. Vincent de Paul School and in making connections with other faith communities in Lawrence County, where Catholics are a distinct minority.

“All of those thing start with prayer,” Father Eldred said. “We have Catholics and non-Catholics that have found peace by being here in our adoration chapel.”

Father Jonathan Meyer helped lead the effort to start the chapel at St. Mary Parish in North Vernon and in All Saints Parish in Dearborn County, the archdiocese’s newest perpetual adoration chapel.

He has now served in four parishes that have perpetual adoration chapels and knows the effect they can have on Catholics.

“We’re not starting an adoration chapel because I want them to be miserable,” Father Meyer said in the days leading up to the start of All Saints’ chapel. “We know that silence, prayer, reading Scripture, good books and literature [in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament] will make you happy.

“That’s why God wants us to have an adoration chapel, because he wants Catholics who are happy and vibrant. That’s what this is all about.” †

 

Related story: United in the Eucharist: Perpetual adoration chapel gives life to parish once marked by ‘heavy hearts’

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