St. Norbert Parish in Paoli is offering two special opportunities be with God every Thursday.
Starting Jan. 20, the church at 50 Leopard Road in Paoli, Chester County has been open for all-day adoration of the Blessed Sacrament following Thursday weekday Mass. And the parish’s prayer team has made intercessory prayer a part of the day’s holy hour from 7 to 8 p.m.
The team has come a long way. It initially offered a monthly healing service complete with personal healing prayer prior to the COVID-19 virus. But like much else, in March 2020 the team had to suspend the service due to the pandemic.
As civic and church life have gradually returned to normal, the parish decided to bring back the weekly holy hour before recently providing the all-day adoration. At this point the St. Norbert Prayer Ministry is specifically focusing on intercessory prayer but will offer private prayer for those in need during that hour.
“St. Norbert has always had a strong charism of intercessory prayer,” said Mark Griswold, the parish’s director of family life. “We have several parishioners who are trained in prayer ministry who are available to pray with anyone in need.”
All prayers are welcome. A book is located in the church’s narthex where everyone is invited to write their own prayer requests. The team then prays for those petitions along with intentions listed in the parish bulletin as well as those received via email.
“We are praying over more intentions than those that are mentioned at the Sunday Masses,” said Jim Ryan, leader of the prayer ministry. “We also offer individual personal prayer which is not offered at the Masses.”
Many parishioners voiced a desire for adoration during the day. It’s a fine opportunity for the school children to spend time in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Signup sheets with timeslots are provided so people can commit to a half-hour (or more) to pray.
The intention is to have a minimum of one person in the sanctuary at all times so that Christ in the monstrance is never left alone. People may simply stop by spontaneously anytime as their schedule allows.
“Given that the parish is currently in the process of evaluating and streamlining the computer applications and subscriptions it uses, we needed an alternative to get coverage across the 11 hours between the end of daily Mass and the beginning of holy hour,” said Mary Beth Fritz, a member of St. Norbert Parish Council. “Sign Up Genius seemed like a good solution.”
Adoration is already off to a good start. Faithful parishioners and friends came and went throughout the day on a recent Thursday. About a dozen had people signed up for one or more slots while others just came for a visit at their convenience. That included folks who stayed to pray after daily Mass, those who did so on their lunch hour, after work and/or before holy hour.
“People need prayer,” said Pete Uzelac, an acolyte. “It is good people who have their problems (and) have someone to turn to who can put them at the forefront of their thoughts.”
There was music and silent reflection during the holy hour. Deacon Steve Martino presided with Uzelac assisting. Griswold provided musical selections including “Worthy is the Lamb” and “This is My Desire” along with traditional benediction hymns “O Saving Victim,” “Down in Adoration Falling” and “Holy God We Praise Thy Name,” along with reciting “the Divine Praises.”
“We try to create an atmosphere where people can focus on Jesus and his presence in the Eucharist,” said Griswold.
Afterward, people could add their prayer intentions in the book. One such was by a person who asked that the team pray for a friend fighting cancer.
“It’s comforting for people to know that people are praying for them,” said Uzelac.
St. Norbert’s Facebook page features a link for SignUpGenius.com so that people may select a timeslot for Thursday adoration that fits their preferred time. Two slots are available for every half-hour from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.
“Filling the slots is up to the Holy Spirit,” said Fritz.
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