Local Workers in the Vineyard

Pilgrimage provides spark for ministry

Maxine Wiechert checks the eucharistic adoration schedule at Christ the King Parish in Topeka. Wiechert and her husband started the ministry 23 years ago.

Maxine Wiechert checks the eucharistic adoration schedule at Christ the King Parish in Topeka. Wiechert and her husband started the ministry 23 years ago.

by Marc and Julie Anderson
mjanderson@theleaven.org

TOPEKA — Promote eucharistic adoration.

That’s the three-word description Maxine Wiechert uses to describe her particular ministry.

In 1977, Wiechert’s family became one of the founding families of Christ the King Church in Topeka. Although the family always practiced their faith and participated in a few parish ministries, she said a trip brought her deeper into the Lord’s vineyard.

“My family and I went on a pilgrimage in 1990,” she recalled. “One night, we walked several blocks at 10:30 p.m. to a large tent where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. It was a peaceful and spiritual experience.”

After returning home, the couple prayed about how to continue growing in their faith.

They started going to Mass and praying the rosary, both on a daily basis. Yet, they wanted to do more. That’s when the memory of that night spent with the Lord in the Eucharist came to mind.

“My husband and I approached the pastor to start perpetual adoration in our parish,” she said.

“We invited a missionary priest, Father Victor Warkulwiz, a member of the Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament, to speak to our parish and ask people to sign up,” she added.

After the missionary’s visit, 400 parishioners signed up, and the couple compiled a 24-hour schedule.

“The rest is history,” she said.

Wiechert has been coordinating the schedule for more than two decades. Perpetual eucharistic adoration at the parish celebrated its 23rd year on Nov. 7, and about 100 of the original 400 still participate in a regularly scheduled Holy Hour.

Today, there are at least 350 parishioners who have a regularly scheduled weekly or monthly hour. Others either serve as substitutes or drop in after Mass for a few minutes of prayer. And Wiechert is always inviting others to try a Holy Hour.

“There are many blessings for a parish. The individual grows in his knowledge and his personal relationship with the Lord,” she said. “Any parishioner can request prayers anytime for their needs. It is a way that weaves the parish together. The individual becomes friends with his prayer partner, and also those before and after. He or she knows their joys and sorrows and shares them.

“Eucharistic adoration brings the parish family together.”

Wiechert said she knows of at least one couple who met at eucharistic adoration. Both parishioners had lost their spouses of several decades due to illness. Their shared Holy Hour led to a lunch date, and then another. The two eventually married and enjoyed several years of marriage together before he passed away.

A more recent witness, Wiechert said, speaks volumes about people’s love for Christ in the Eucharist.

A few weeks ago, a parishioner lost his wife of 59 years.

“She died at 12:30. A few hours later, the gentleman took his four daughters to the Holy Hour to pray as a family,” she said. “People just couldn’t believe it.”

 

About the author

Marc & Julie Anderson

Marc & Julie Anderson

Freelancers Marc and Julie Anderson are long-time contributors to the Leaven. Married in 1996, for several years the high school sweethearts edited The Crown, the former newspaper of Christ the King Parish in Topeka which Julie has attended since its founding in 1977. In 2000, the Leaven offered the couple their first assignment. Since then, the Andersons’ work has also been featured in a variety of other Catholic and prolife media outlets. The couple has received numerous journalism awards from the Knights of Columbus, National Right to Life and the Catholic Press Association including three for their work on “Think It’s Not Happening Near You? Think Again,” a piece about human trafficking. A lifelong Catholic, Julie graduated from Most Pure Heart of Mary Grade School and Hayden Catholic High School in Topeka. Marc was received into the Catholic Church in 1993 at St. Paul Parish – Newman Center at Wichita State University. The two hold degrees from Washburn University in Topeka. Their only son, William James, was stillborn in 1997.

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