by Jill Ragar Esfeld
LENEXA — Holy Trinity parishioner Anita Mockry was on a trip to the Holy Land more than 25 years ago when a fellow traveler gave her some literature on perpetual adoration.
It was a popular topic at the time. Many parishes, following the request of Pope John Paul II, had established perpetual adoration chapels.
“I just started reading it over in the airport,” recalled Mockry. “And it just really moved me. And I thought, ‘Wow I’ve got to talk to Father Ray about this.’”
Not only did Mockry talk to former pastor Msgr. Ray Burger, but, with his encouragement, she spearheaded the campaign to begin perpetual adoration at Holy Trinity.
In 1989, an old stone chapel that once served as the church became the adoration chapel. Ella Hofer, one of the parish’s oldest members, signed up for the first hour of adoration.
Over the next 25 years, the number of participants grew, as did the hours the chapel was open. Eventually, it was moved from the old chapel to a cry room in the new church building to its current home — a dedicated chapel at the heart of the Holy Trinity campus.
To celebrate a quarter century of perpetual adoration, parishioners returned to the old stone chapel where it all began for Benediction and an hour of adoration led by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann.
“It was everything I hoped it would be,” said Kathy Sexton, who helped organize the event. “We had a nice turnout and a beautiful day. And we were really blessed to have the archbishop.”
“I hope it gives you great joy to realize how many people have benefited from your work,” the archbishop said to those involved in the ministry.
Holy Trinity’s adoration chapel is a quiet oasis where all are welcome to come and spend time with the exposed Blessed Sacrament.
The interior is surrounded by stained-glass windows depicting the corporal works of mercy. Just outside is a meditative garden.
The chapel seats up to 40 and is open to the public from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Mockry was in charge of the ministry for the first 10 years and then turned it over to Katie Schroeder, who said, “I never considered it a job. It was a privilege.”
Currently, Sexton and Eileen Daly share the responsibility of organizing the 336 individuals needed to make sure two adorers are with the Eucharist at all times.
Like Schroeder, they are happy to promote a ministry they know benefits fellow Catholics and their parish.
“For me personally,” said Sexton, “it has helped relieve a lot of anxiety and stress just in the normal transitions of life.
“Getting my children through the teenage and college years, when my parents passed away — I just went to [eucharistic] adoration and found great solace. There, you have the ultimate listener and counselor.”
“In our busy society,” she said, “it may be hard for people to imagine just sitting quietly with Jesus for an hour.
“But I look back over the years and I feel like my spiritual life really evolved in the adoration chapel.
“And it continues to.”
The archbishop talked about the benefits of eucharistic adoration to individuals, their parish and the church as a whole.
“Adoration is linked to vocations in the priesthood,” he said.
Indeed, Holy Trinity has had several young people discern vocations in adoration, and the parish has reaped many other benefits.
“The first effects were an increase in [morning] Mass attendance and confessions,” said Mockry. “And then more people just started getting involved in the church.”
At the anniversary event, Archbishop Naumann spoke about the early church and the many Christians who risked their lives to share the Eucharist.
“Sometimes, I think we can take for granted the great gift of our faith and our freedom to practice it,” he said.
He encouraged Catholics to take advantage of the gift of perpetual adoration.
“It’s here that we can listen to the Lord and let him speak to our hearts,” he said. “It’s a time for us to come and unburden ourselves.
“But mostly, it’s a time to adore God and thank him.”