Adoration in Elmira still strong despite loss of coordinator - Catholic Courier
A monstrance is displayed on an altar.

The adoration chapel on the campus of St. Casimir Church in Elmira is seen May 5. (Courier photo by Mike Latona)

Adoration in Elmira still strong despite loss of coordinator

ELMIRA — Over a period of three decades, Rose Marie McLaughlin and Angie Sgro’s commitment to eucharistic adoration was unmatched locally.

“They were the best evangelizers of adoration,” remarked Anne Bremer, officer manager for Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish. “Any time they had a chance to put adoration into the conversation, they did.”

McLaughlin and Sgro, who were sisters, cofounded an adoration chapel at St. Casimir Church in 1992 and maintained coordinating roles for many years. Sgro died in 2018, and the parish endured another key loss when McLaughlin, 86, passed away this past March 14.

Yet the chapel continues to thrive, thanks to approximately 150 regular adorers and 40 substitutes who take turns praying before a monstrance containing a consecrated host.

“We can spend time with our Lord glorifying his actual presence with us. It’s an amazing and beautiful gift he has given to us,” said Mary Pat Cantando, a Most Holy Name of Jesus parishioner who has been an adorer for about 10 years. “I feel blessed that Elmira has an opportunity to allow all of us to visit with him.”

In April, Cantando stepped forward to become the chapel’s new head coordinator. She said she hopes to emulate the devotion exhibited by McLaughlin, her predecessor, who also led an annual Divine Mercy Novena each spring and a Living Rosary each October.

“I’ve always truly admired her commitment, faith and love of the adoration chapel,” Cantando said.

Elmira chapel opened for adoration in 1992

The adoration chapel is located at 1012 Davis St. in the former nuns’ chapel on the campus of St. Casimir Church. It has been housed there since 2018, a short distance from its original location in the church basement where it opened on Dec. 8, 1992.

McLaughlin and Sgro founded the chapel with the assistance of Father Eugene Weis, then the pastor of St. Casimir. In a 2017 Catholic Courier article, Father Weis recalled the high demand among Elmira Catholics 25 years earlier for such a facility, saying, “If (it was) that important to the people, (it was) that important to me.” Father Weis currently resides at the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse near Rochester.

Also helping launch the adoration chapel was the late Father Joseph DeLuca, a priest of the Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament, who specialized in establishing and strengthening perpetual-adoration efforts around the country.

For many years the Elmira chapel featured perpetual adoration, for which at least one adorer is always present before the Blessed Sacrament. Typically made up of one-hour shifts, the adoration schedule was filled 24 hours per day, seven days per week with the exception of the Easter Triduum.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the chapel suspended operations for more than a year beginning in March 2020. It reopened in May 2021, with daily hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. that remain in place today.

Adorers cherish chapel’s peaceful setting

The chapel at St. Casimir is one of two adoration facilities at in the Diocese of Rochester’s Southern Tier region. The other chapel, located at St. Ann Church in Hornell, opened in 2001.

In Elmira, Bremer noted that the chapel at St. Casimir draws regularly scheduled adorers from several parts of the Tier, including some who have maintained their original shifts for three decades.

“That’s their hour, they don’t miss it,” said Bremer, who has been an adorer throughout the chapel’s history and is currently a roving substitute.

Bremer added that a number of participants stop into the chapel for unscheduled adoration, coming from nearby Elmira College as well as local businesses. She said that some adorers read from provided prayer books; some recite the rosary; and others simply engage in silent prayer and reflection. “It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you show up,” she remarked.

Cantando — who, as McLaughlin’s successor, now handles scheduling duties — said she cherishes her own time as an adorer.

“Besides attending Mass, it’s the best part of my week,” Cantando said. “It’s my quiet time amidst life’s storms, stresses and distractions. It’s a piece of heaven here on earth.”

“It’s a home,” Bremer said of the chapel. “I think it’s the peace you feel in there. You feel better when you leave.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Those interested in learning more about the adoration chapel in Elmira may call Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish at 607-733-3484. In Hornell, contact Isabelle Nobilski at 607-324-1424.

Tags: Chemung County News, Faith in Action
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