All night long

Nocturnal eucharistic adoration finds a new home
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by Joe Bollig
joe.bollig@theleaven.org

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A group of All Saints parishioners here have taken the words of Psalm 134 to heart:

“Come, bless the Lord,
all you servants of the Lord 
Who stand in the house of the Lord
during the hours of the night” (v.1).

Since June, a group of about 30 people have gathered at All Saints Church (formerly St. Joseph-St. Benedict) to participate in a eucharistic devotion more familiar to earlier generations of Catholics than to their own. Known simply as nocturnal adoration, it is a devotion that calls for eucharistic adoration, carried on throughout the night by successive shifts of worshippers, on a specified night each month.

There are many adoration chapels in Kansas and several in the archdiocese. Many parishes periodically conduct eucharistic adoration, particularly as part of Benediction.

All Saints, however, is one of only two places in the state that conducts nocturnal adoration as part of a local chapter of the Nocturnal Adoration Society.

The practice of nocturnal adoration began in Rome in 1592 and spread quickly across Italy and then other countries. Today, the society numbers a million members in 36 different countries. The national headquarters of the society is at St. Jean Baptiste Church in New York.

On Dec. 6, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann celebrated an inaugural Mass for the Kansas City, Kan., chapter of the society, which was established by Gerardo Oregel, with the help of his wife Carmen.

“When I was a kid, my dad used to take me to nocturnal adoration,” said Gerardo Oregel. “I tried to start it here seven years ago, but it wasn’t possible because of security concerns.”

This year, however, the Oregels took up the idea again after finishing a two-year Hispanic leadership course conducted by Father Pat Murphy, CS, animator for archdiocesan Hispanic ministry.

Launching the adoration program became, in a sense, Gerardo Oregel’s graduation project. After receiving approval from All Saints pastor Father Dan Gardner and Archbishop Naumann, the Oregels began recruiting others to form the local chapter.

Nocturnal adoration is held on the first Friday of each month. Members of the local chapter, sometimes joined by others, gather inside the church at 8:30 p.m. Father Gardner opens the devotion with a brief homily, then at 9:30 p.m. conducts exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

At 11 p.m., all those not staying the night leave and the doors are locked. Those remaining have been organized into groups: One “shift” remains in adoration in the church, while the remainder of the men get some sleep in the basement. One man, and sometimes more, stays awake all night, acting as sort of the “foreman,” monitoring the shifts.

“Then, at 4 a.m., everyone gets up and prays for the last time together, and the pastor unlocks the door for whoever wants to come in for adoration,” said Gerardo Oregel. “Father Gardner [completes exposition] and ends with the Mass.”

There’s something special about praying before the Lord in the quiet of the night, he said. In a sense, it is like keeping watch with Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The nocturnal adoration at All Saints is conducted in Spanish, but it is open to all Catholics of the archdiocese.

 

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