by KATHLEEN CASEY
Two years of perpetual exposition in Christchurch have been marked by faithfulness and peace, but it took hard
work to set it up.
In 2011, Bishop Barry Jones was keen to get it going. Pope Benedict’s Sacramentum Caritatis suggests that every
diocese in the world needs a place with this devotion.
“It’s in the mind of the Church — that is what moved me,” Bishop Jones said. “I think [the Pope] is on the right track.”
The diocese’s earthquake coordinator, Matt O’Connell, who had spent a year in 2001-2002 at a Franciscan monastery in Chicago where there was perpetual adoration, relished the challenge of meeting the bishop’s request.
In 2012, a committee wrote a proposal and shortlisted venues.
A chapel attached to the Bishopdale church was the best venue. With the installation of items such as a heat pump,
telephone, emergency listings and a fire extinguisher, it was ready to go.
“In between,” said Mr O’Connell, “there was a lot of work to promote it, get the chapel ready and get people signed up.”
“Sign-up Sunday” found helpers at all parish Masses collecting names. “Miraculously, most of the slots were filled,” Mr O’Connell said.
On June 30, 2013, Bishop Jones launched perpetual adoration at the 5pm Mass at St Gregory’s Church, Bishopdale.
There are 320 rostered adorers, but for every official adorer there are often several visitors.
“It takes a bit of work sometimes to fill gaps over Christmas,” said Mr O’Connell.
A computer programme brings up a list of “subs”; people who are prepared to fill in at short notice. He recently had enquiries from Adelaide asking how it was all done.
There are other spinoffs. Bishop Jones was keen to have this in a school, and St Bede’s recently completed a 40 Hours devotion — 6am Thursday to 10pm Friday — where more than 600 boys spent half a period each in adoration.
It was attended at other times by boys, parents and community, and senior boys later told chaplain Rachel Pitcaithly: “We need to do this every year.”
The bishop says a weekly Mass at the Bishopdale chapel for the hundreds of intentions pushed into a petition box.
Because he lives nearby, Bishop Jones sees the faithfulness of adorers as a witness.
“The constancy of people going is amazing. People have signed up, and they come rain, hail or sun. I see people coming all day and all night. It’s amazing. If they wanted to pull out, they just would.
“I think it has sort of triggered other acts of adoration — [at St Bede’s 40 hours] there were day boys, boarders, staff and parents. They had a full roster the whole 40 hours. Mairehau parish has also held 40 hours.”
Mr O’Connell said they are confident “there is abundant fruit”. Two testimonies speak volumes:
“Adoration for me has been a time of drawing closer to Our Lord in a different way from anything else I have experienced. It has been direct, intense and very personal, to the extent of finding myself often unaware of other adorers. Jesus says to me, ‘This is where I want you’. I can’t explain it any other way.”
“When I am before the Eucharist, I am struck with awe and wonder. I come broken and bruised. I bring him my pain
and longing, and he responds with peace and healing. It’s incredible that he wants unworthy little me to be with perfect almighty him for all eternity. How can I not want to love him, be close to him, and commune with the faithful in heaven and on Earth. The Eucharist is the real presence of Christ — once you ‘get it’, this procession we call life has meaning, hope and purpose.”