Catholics from all corners of the diocese will gather at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral Oct. 16 to celebrate a group that has been a local fixture for 75 years — the diocesan chapter of the Nocturnal Adoration Society.
The Nocturnal Adoration Society is an international group that was founded in Rome in 1810. Members of the society pray for the needs of the church and the world, and the society’s goal is to unite its members in prayer before the exposed Eucharist during the night while deepening their faith, love and Christian commitment. The first society in the United States began in Boston, Mass., in 1882.
The diocesan chapter of the Nocturnal Adoration Society was founded at the former St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Rochester and has grown to include 13 centers, or parishes, where nocturnal adoration is held. The centers are sprinkled throughout the diocese, with host parishes in Canandaigua, Elmira, Auburn, Corning, Horseheads, Wayland, Rochester and several Rochester suburbs.
At most centers nocturnal adoration takes place once a month. It usually begins with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and ends with Benediction, said Father Thomas Mull, director of the diocesan society and pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Canandaigua, which is a nocturnal adoration center. Nocturnal adoration also includes readings, hymns of praise, intercessions and periods of silent prayer and reflection, he said.
The Liturgy of the Hours is an integral part of nocturnal adoration and is one of the things that distinguishes it from perpetual adoration, said Father Roy Kiggins, pastor of St. Francis de Sales and St. Stephen’s parishes in Geneva. Perpetual adoration is ongoing, as the name suggests, and at least one individual is present in front of the Blessed Sacrament at all times. St. Stephen’s is one of several parishes in the diocese where perpetual adoration is held.
“Nocturnal (adoration) is a group devotion. Perpetual is an individual, self-structured, self-determined hour. Even if two or three people are present in the same hour, (perpetual adoration) does not include group prayer,” Father Kiggins said.
Years ago, nocturnal adoration always lasted the entire night, but now it only takes place for one or a few hours at most centers, Father Mull said. Nocturnal adoration at St. Mary’s Parish in Auburn is different because it takes place every three months instead of every month and continues for the duration of the night rather than a few hours, said Al Lane, head of the Auburn-area Nocturnal Adoration Society.
Lane has participated in nocturnal adoration for the past six years and said he’s found the experience very rewarding.
“The Eucharist is there for us to adore and spend some time with Christ. He’s asked us to do that,” Lane explained. “This is our faith, and how much time do we devote to it? How much time do we spend sitting down before the Lord?”
Many people like the monastic style of the Liturgy of the Hours and the devotion’s focus on intentions, but most people attend nocturnal adoration because they’re devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, Father Mull said.
“They know that Christ plays an important part in their lives and they want to give him the honor that they feel he deserves,” said Richard McGill, leader of the Elmira-area Nocturnal Adoration Society.
“You don’t have too many opportunities on a continual basis to see Jesus and the Blessed Sacrament like that, and to be able to share that experience with other people,” noted Don Karal, executive secretary of the diocesan Nocturnal Adoration Society.
Grace Schneider of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Greece said she turned to nocturnal adoration during a family crisis, and the devotion helped her find peace. She now refers to the crisis as a trigger that pushed her toward something that became very important in her life. Schneider’s husband, Jerry, is president of the chapter that meets at Holy Name of Jesus.
“The spiritual treasury is enormous. When you have time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, you just feel it. It’s hard to explain. It’s very personal, very rewarding in many ways. I wouldn’t miss it,” Schneider said.
Taking part in nocturnal adoration has increased his confidence in God, said Frank Spinelli, treasurer of the diocesan society.
“It’s a confidence that everyone I see every day is loved in a special way by God, and, most amazingly, that I also am loved personally by God,” he said.
In honor of the diocesan society’s 75th anniversary, a special commemorative candle has been traveling around the diocese this year, spending one month at each center. The candle was meant to be a more visible sign of the connection between the 13 diocesan centers, Father Mull said. The candle was at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Rochester last October for the start of the anniversary year, and it will be at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral this October.
The cathedral will host a Mass at 2 p.m. Oct. 16 for all members of the diocesan Nocturnal Adoration Society, as well as anyone else who is interested, Karal said. Both Karal and Father Mull said they hoped the anniversary candle and events would help draw attention and new members to the diocesan Nocturnal Adoration Society.
Nocturnal adoration sites around the diocese
The diocesan Nocturnal Adoration Society has 13 centers where nocturnal adoration is regularly held. These centers are located at:
* Sacred Heart Cathedral, Rochester, 585/254-3221
* Blessed Sacrament, Rochester, 585/271-7240
* Christ the King, Irondequoit, 585/266-1288
* St. Helen’s, Gates, 585/235-1210
* Holy Name of Jesus, Greece, 585/621-4040
* St. John of Rochester, Fairport, 585/248-5993
* St. Mary’s, Canandaigua, 585/394-1220
* Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Brockport, 585/637-4500
* St. Joseph’s, Wayland, 585/728-2228
* St. Mary’s, Auburn, 315/252-9545
* St. Anthony’s, Elmira, 607/733-0300
* St. Vincent DePaul, Corning, 607/936-4689
* St. Mary Our Mother, Horseheads, 607/739-3817
Contact the host parishes to find out when each center holds nocturnal adoration. In addition to these 13 centers, nocturnal adoration is also held at St. Margaret Mary Church in Apalachin. For more information, contact Ed Syryca, coordinator, at 607/625-13732.
St. Paul of the Cross Parish in Honeoye Falls and St. Rose Parish in Lima also tentatively planned to begin holding nocturnal adoration within the next few weeks, said Father Lawrence Gross, pastor. For more information, contact St. Paul of the Cross at 585/624-1443 or St. Rose at 585/624-1005.