Five hundred hours, strung together, come out to nearly 21 days. So it could be considered quite an undertaking to set such a number for eucharistic adoration over a two-month period.
But when there’s a group effort as strong as that at All Saints Parish in Corning, the hours can pile up quickly. In fact, the parish far exceeded its Lenten goal, ending up with 602 hours.
The effort began just prior to Ash Wednesday and concluded on Palm Sunday. Adoration was conducted at two sites — Sundays and Wednesdays at St. Mary’s Church, and Tuesdays, Friday and Saturdays at the Anawim Community Prayer Center. The hours were mailed as an Easter gift to Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, in the form of a “spiritual bouquet” card describing the adoration campaign.
“Well we can’t get over there, but at least maybe can mail him whatever total we can come up with,” said Clara Pasto, an All Saints parishioner who organized the prayer effort. She kept track of the adoration hours as did her husband, Donald, as well as parishioners Paula Wozniak, Gloria House and Angela Jeronimo.
According to the final tally, a large chunk of adoration time was done by the young people of All Saints. “What a great, great help the children were,” Pasto said. “If it wasn’t for those lovely youths, we wouldn’t have attained (the goal).”
Marie McCaig, youth minister of All Saints, reported that more than 100 hours were logged by the junior- and senior-high youth groups. The adoration time was compiled during regular youth-group meetings on Sundays (senior high) and Mondays (junior high).
McCaig said the ritual was familiar to senior-high members due to their experience with adoration during an annual parish teen retreat. “Because of their positive experience with adoration, they did not complain about my request of sitting in the church, quietly, for one hour,” McCaig remarked. She acknowledged that she had been more concerned about keeping peace with her 70 junior-high students. However, many took part in adoration the Monday after having attended a parish viewing of “The Passion of the Christ.”
“They were still deeply moved and reflective. Instead of sitting quietly, we prayed together the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary. I have to say, it was the most powerful prayer experience I have experienced with our middle-school students. They were ‘into’ it like never before. It was beautiful to see and feel their faith, if only for one hour,” McCaig said.
Pasto said the young people’s participation was fitting based on the “500 Hours” theme, which was to pray for vocations. “This is the age group that’s going to benefit — these are our future deacons, priests and religious,” Pasto said, adding that perhaps this deep prayer would spur some youths toward considering a religious vocation.
Of all forms of worship, Pasto said that adoration “might be the highest — it is our eucharistic Lord.” Therefore, she feels that the recent Lenten effort “would make a great impact on obtaining religious vocations.”
Pasto expressed this sentiment in a notice she wrote for the All Saints parish bulletin in March: “Make no mistake, the adoration hours we pray today will yield a rich harvest in the years to come.”
The 500-hour initiative was so successful that Pasto is considering a similar effort for Advent with a new theme. In the meantime, she encourages worshipers to practice this form of prayer throughout the year. Regular adoration is held each Sunday from 3-4 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church, 155 State St., Corning; Tuesday (for senior citizens), 1 p.m., Anawim Community Prayer Center, 122 E. First St., Corning; Wednesday, 7:15-8:15 a.m., St. Mary’s Church; and Friday 9 p.m.-Saturday 7 a.m., Anawim Center.
“Once you come a few times, you can kind of get hooked,” Pasto said.
McCaig’s flock would be a good example: “I have made it a goal of mine to spend more time with our teens before the Blessed Sacrament … they need it as well as I!” she stated.