May 20, 2022

Evangelization Supplement

Adoration chapels in archdiocese are an aid in evangelization efforts

Father Jonathan Meyer, co-pastor of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County, second from left, and Deacon Robert Decker join several altar servers and other parishioners in praying before the Blessed Sacrament on March 1, 2017, the day on which the Batesville Deanery faith community’s perpetual adoration chapel on its St. John the Baptist campus in Dover was inaugurated. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

Father Jonathan Meyer, co-pastor of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County, second from left, and Deacon Robert Decker join several altar servers and other parishioners in praying before the Blessed Sacrament on March 1, 2017, the day on which the Batesville Deanery faith community’s perpetual adoration chapel on its St. John the Baptist campus in Dover was inaugurated. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Dotted across central and southern Indiana are small chapels where, at all hours of the day and night, Catholics come to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Many people driving by these chapels might not even know they exist.

But for the people who go there to pray and the priests and other dedicated Catholics who help oversee them, they are powerhouses that fuel the Church’s mission to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.

Even when all the chapels were closed in the spring of 2020 during the first part of the coronavirus pandemic, Catholics came as close as they could to the Blessed Sacrament, said Msgr. Joseph Schaedel, pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, which has a perpetual adoration chapel.

“They would drive over here and sit in the parking lot and pray because they knew Christ was in the church in the tabernacle,” he said. “They wanted to be close to the Real Presence. That told me what a difference eucharistic adoration made in their lives.”

As difficult as the early part of the pandemic was for Catholics across central and southern Indiana, though, the effect of adoration chapels on evangelization has not waned, said Father Jonathan Meyer, who founded adoration chapels at St. Mary Parish in North Vernon and on the St. John the Baptist Campus of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County.

He noted how earlier this year on the fifth anniversary of the opening of the chapel on the St. John the Baptist Campus, many people who are committed adorers and other parishioners started going door-to-door in the boundaries of the parish to invite people to an encounter with Christ and the Church.

“Up to date, they’ve knocked on 600 doors, inviting people to the Catholic Church,” said Father Meyer. “That is a direct fruit of perpetual adoration in our parish.

“I’m so glad that, at the center of it, is a group of people who are spending their time on their knees in front of our Lord. You couldn’t ask for a better way for something to be rooted and started … because then you know that it’s about Jesus. There’s no confusion about the motive.”

Msgr. Schaedel also sees the connection between eucharistic adoration and evangelization in his 11 years as pastor at St. Luke and in his connection to the Divine Mercy Perpetual Adoration Chapel at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis, which is the oldest adoration chapel in the archdiocese. He helped to found it in 1989.

“I know so many people here and elsewhere who have been attracted to the Catholic faith through the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” he said. “We have people who come here and pray in the chapel who aren’t even Catholic. But they feel attracted by that Real Presence. That’s the big drawing card to get people into the Church.”

Adoration is a conduit for people from beyond the Church to come closer to it. But it can also enliven the faith of those already in the Church, another important part of evangelization.

Msgr. Schaedel said that St. Luke’s adoration chapel is “an anchor” for the Indianapolis North Deanery faith community.

“It’s the presence of the Lord,” he said. “And somebody from the parish, by and large, is always praying there with and for the community. The Eucharist is what holds us together.”

Adoration chapels also draw parishioners into deeper, faith-filled relationships said Father Meyer, especially for parishes with committed adorers in the chapels.

“The bond that happens between these people is really powerful,” he said. “We don’t think about perpetual adoration as being a community builder. But it actually builds tremendous community. People will share prayer intentions. They’ll share their hearts. You can trust the person you’re talking to because they’re coming for an hour of prayer.”

That bond extends to him. Seeing the commitment to prayer in his parishioners has helped Father Meyer grow in his own priestly life and ministry.

“There’s something powerful as a priest in praying with your people, being there with your people,” he said. “You’re a priest, but you’re also a brother as I spend time praying with them.”

The coronavirus pandemic has affected the 14 perpetual adoration chapels in the archdiocese. Some have returned to having adorers praying before the Blessed Sacrament 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Others are only open for limited hours while efforts are being made to increase the number of people who can commit to an hour of prayer there each week.

Lisette Shattuck, a consecrated virgin in the archdiocese, helps oversee the Divine Mercy Chapel at St. Michael. While there are not yet people committed to pray before the Blessed Sacrament there around the clock, it is open at all times with only limited hours in which the Eucharist is exposed in a monstrance.

Still, Shattuck is encouraged by seeing a growing number of people committing to hours there, especially from among the Hispanic Catholic community on Indianapolis’ west side.

“It is amazing to be part of a ‘re-growing’ adoration chapel,” she said. “I believe the good Lord above knows the chapel was made to be used, and I’m willing to help do my part to see that we get back to 24/7.”

Through prayer, Shattuck has also come to have patience and hope for the future of the archdiocese’s first perpetual adoration chapel.

“It may take quite some time to get where it was before March 2020, but I’m learning to ride the wave of the west side of Indy,” she said. “There is just no sense in being in a big rush and getting stressed out. I’ve asked Jesus’ help with it. So many people love coming to the chapel.”
 

(For a list of adoration chapels in the archdiocese and for contact information to learn more about them, visit www.archindy.org/adoration.)

 

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