The idea of Eucharistic adoration being synonymous with the new evangelisation was the message we took to heart after attending Adoration 2011, an adoration conference in Rome organised by the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist, a new foundation in Southern France.
Having been responsible, with Roy and Fiona Pires and Chaplain Fr Gregory Jordan SJ, for a roster of lay faithful to adore Our Lord perpetually at the Villa Maria Chapel in Brisbane since Pentecost 2009 (the Chapel being that of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration founded in the 19th century), we were drawn to the idea of attending to learn from others.
There was never an overwhelming moment at this conference, just a steady flow of truth proclaimed, and a deepened awareness and awe that all we do for God comes from adoring Our Lord. Without adoration of Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament our works are only a portion of what they should be.
Knowing there was too much wisdom for us to take home and do justice to, we decided to ask Fr Florian Racine, the moderator of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist, if they would be willing to visit Australia. The end result was a month's mission in July 2012, led by the newly ordained Irish priest, Fr David Nugent.
As their mission is to promote Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration our agreement was to have at least two Perpetual Adoration Missions in parishes that were prepared to look at the possibility of adoring continuously for at least three days and three nights every week, with the intention of building to perpetual adoration.
Convinced that it was God's will that Perpetual Adoration should be spread throughout the world, we persevered in our search, which involved writing to and speaking with bishops, priests and laity. We discovered the laity keen, the priests interested but unsure of the desire of the laity, and bishops overloaded with work and requests and attending ordinations of new bishops.
The end result took us by surprise with two missions in Queensland, in Toowoomba and the Banyo-Nundah parish in the north of Brisbane. Both were willing to step out in faith to see what God willed. Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration began at Banyo-Nundah Parish on 22 August 2012, Feast of the Queenship of Mary, with the endeavour entrusted to her patronage.
Now when the Banyo-Nundah parish priest, Fr Paul Chandler, is asked, "Perpetual adoration in a parish? Is it possible?", he replies, "Of course, an undoubted 'yes'. However, I must admit to not really knowing how to go about it and having some qualms about the magnitude of the task in establishing such an endeavour."
He had been PP for just over two years and like many who lived through the times of the Eucharistic adoration 'drought', he rediscovered the joys and graces of being present to the Lord when, through Blessed John Paul II and WYD, the tide of adoration turned. In all the parishes he has been, he has endeavoured to have Eucharistic adoration.
Fr Chandler reflects: "It was wonderful while at the Cathedral of St Stephen that there was adoration each weekday. That was the most regular and constant I had experienced it since my childhood days. When Kate Hobbs from the Perpetual Adoration Association approached me about the visit of Fr David Nugent I was definitely interested in seeking to extend the hours of Eucharistic adoration we had already in our parish. I still didn't know how we were going to do it! How do you get the number of adorers needed? How do you maintain commitment"?
He discovered that all these questions became secondary. Fr Nugent showed it's not first the 'how to' that matters, but allowing the Lord himself to place in the hearts of His people the 'desire to'. Fr Nugent did that through preaching, example and profound insights into the mystery and magnitude of Christ's presence in the Blessed Sacrament. One of his sayings that made a deep impact on Fr Chandler was, "Jesus Christ is the easiest person in the world to spend time with!"
A simple invitation was made to the parish: Could you spend an hour with the Lord each week? One hundred and sixty people said 'yes'. Perpetual Adoration began six weeks after Fr Nugent's visit.
So, yes, Fr Chandler has found it can be done. He advises:"Remember, it's not our work, it is His and you achieve most of the work on your knees before Him. Does it take effort? Of course, it does, but you will be surprised, like me, at the ease with which God's will unfolds when there is willing human co-operation."
I asked Fr Chandler what he has witnessed so far? What changes have there been? He replied: "I have noticed a deepening sense of reverence and quiet within our church buildings. I have experienced the school leadership wanting to bring the children along. I have been thrilled to see our churches open again during the day for prayer. I am convinced there are many graces unknown flowing through our parish and many more graces still to come."
The co-ordinators of the Perpetual Adoration Association Queensland are in the process of planning this year's July Mission with Fr David Nugent of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist. Enquiries to invite the Missionaries to preach with the intention of beginning Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, for at least three days and three nights continuously per week, can be made by contacting Keiran and Kate Hobbs, 0414-256-996 or (07) 3278-1404; email: firstname.lastname@example.org