by Marc and Julie Anderson
TOPEKA — At 2 a.m. on a Monday morning, most people are asleep. But not Mary Stewart, a member of Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish here.
For the past 25 years, Stewart, a nurse practitioner at Topeka’s Marian Clinic, has been in the same spot — on her knees praying before the Blessed Sacrament in the parish’s adoration chapel.
Stewart is just one of more than 600 to 700 parishioners who have taken a weekly or monthly turn at a Holy Hour since the parish started perpetual adoration.
On June 7, the solemnity of Corpus Christi, or the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, the parish celebrated its silver anniversary of eucharistic adoration with an outdoor eucharistic procession on the parish grounds, complete with a rosary, adoration and Benediction.
Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish opened the doors to its adoration chapel on July 29, 1990. It’s a time both Stewart and Ellen Brentine, a former coordinator, recall well.
“It (the start of adoration at the parish) was announced at Mass one Sunday,” Stewart said, adding she called the parish to sign up almost immediately.
Brentine recalls cards being handed out during Mass.
“The whole parish was invited to sign up on one of these little cards,” she said. “I remember the little cards were passed out during Mass and, if we were interested, all we had to do was list times we were available for an hour.”
For both Brentine and Stewart, the rest is history. Brentine signed up for an hour on Sunday evenings, along with her husband Frank. Like Stewart, the couple still has an hour all these years later, although it’s now an hour earlier than when they first started.
“We really and truly love it,” said Brentine, adding that the hour provided the couple, when they were both working, a chance to find peace and solace as well as time to prepare for the upcoming week. But most importantly, it gave them the opportunity to give Jesus some of their time.
Brentine and her husband grew to enjoy their hour so much that, in 2001, they volunteered to serve as the overall adoration coordinators, a ministry they did together for seven years. Brentine also served on the stewardship committee and helped host the parish’s Welcome Sunday program.
“We’ve gotten to know so many people in the parish,” said Brentine, adding the ministries she and her husband were involved in really complemented one another well. While welcoming newcomers to the parish, she would often invite people to sign up for an adoration hour. And she kept her pictorial directory at her fingertips. That way, she could show newcomers pictures of other adorers and help them form relationships with other parishioners as well. Other ways she invited people to adoration is through bulletin announcements, although she also said it’s important to have the backing of the pastor.
Brentine sometimes finds a personal invitation helps those who are a little unsure at first.
“I encourage them to stop by [the Blessed Sacrament chapel] for a few minutes. If they are afraid, I’ll invite them to come with me to one of my hours,” she said. “And it’s just amazing how many people will sign up for an hour as a result.”
For Stewart, the early morning time does not allow for many people to join her; however, she said the hour provides her a lot of time to think and pray, but mostly just to allow Jesus to speak to her.
“I’ve always loved adoration,” Stewart said. “It’s just so wonderful to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.”
Although it’s sometimes difficult to get up, Stewart said spending that hour in adoration with Jesus for the past 25 years has been a tremendous blessing.
“If you want to deepen your relationship with someone, you must spend time with that person,” Stewart said. “So, if you want to deepen your friendship with the Lord, adoration is a good way to do it.
“There’s no better way you can do it than to see him and speak to him in the Blessed Sacrament.”