Catholics believe the bread and wine of the Eucharist become the Body and Blood of Christ, according to his word at the Last Supper. “Once the host is consecrated, we believe the presence of Christ remains even after the celebration of the Eucharist,” says Father Jerry Kopacek.
Over the centuries, it is the practice to openly display the Blessed Sacrament and allow prayer and worship to take place on a continuous schedule – every hour of every day of every year in “Perpetual Adoration” – at numerous churches and chapels around the world, including the chapel at Columbus High School in Waterloo.
In the chapel, the Blessed Sacrament is shown in an ornate holder called a monstrance and placed on the altar where it remains for silent adoration. Members of local parishes sign up to be present in the chapel at all times in reflection, prayer and silent adoration.
Perpetual Adoration started in the chapel in 2007. Kopacek was part of the planning committee with “Father Dennis Coulter from St. Patrick’s Church in Cedar Falls, and a group of lay people. “We talked about the idea, and we got permission from the Archbishop to have the chapel reserved. The Catholic Board of Education gave us their permission. Everyone was very willing from the beginning.”
In many parts of the world, people had started perpetual adoration to beseech the Lord to call men to the priesthood. Locally, the program was launched at Advent where the faithful pray for vocation, their own intentions, the church and the world.
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“I really believe it helps strengthen the church,” says Kopacek. “We can’t prove direct results, and faith enters into it, of course. I can’t help but notice the great strides made in Cedar Valley Catholic Schools and other things that have been going on. I’ve heard from individuals about what a blessing it has been to have a little oasis of quiet and prayer in the midst of a noisy world.”
For the past seven years, someone has been present in the chapel for every hour of every day. “They read the Bible or other spiritual reading, have their own prayers, pray the rosary, and some people like to be silent for their prayerful reflection. The focus is praying or being in a prayerful way in the presence of the body of Christ,” Kopacek explains.
Initially, it was expected that overnight hours, bad winter weather or a volunteer moving away or dying could create voids. That hasn’t happened. “People are really committed. When an hour opens up, the word goes out and it fills up. So far, it’s worked out pretty darned well.”
Anyone interested in committing to Perpetual Adoration at the chapel can contact Vince Heuer at (319) 233-6179 or call 233-8060 .