Nestled among kauri trees and tui birdsong near Titirangi village in Auckland is the small Catholic church of Mount St Mary’s.
On Sunday May 1, its congregation will celebrate 20 years of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament .
Night and day, 24/7, through all these years, at least one person has been present here before the Eucharist, in silent prayer, thanksgiving and adoration.
Knowing the church is always open, many people call in to pray during the day. The church is never empty.
Strictly speaking not a parish, the priest and congregation of Mount St Mary’s answer directly to the bishop of Auckland. This arrangement began in 1989 when Fr Denzil Meuli moved to this 150-seat church and started daily Latin Mass, followed by Holy Hour of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
The hours of adoration gradually extended during the early 1990s. The numbers attending the traditional Latin Mass grew, along with the increasing hours of adoration and, in April 1996, perpetual eucharistic adoration was established.
In the early years Louise Morgan and then Lara Tuinman organised the roster, and Grace Yuen has shouldered the role since 2001.
“Back then we had only the phone to contact people, and it was much more difficult to make any last minute changes,” said Ms Yuen. “Nowadays, with mobile phones and text messaging, it is much easier to manage the roster.
“People soon find that their lives begin to revolve around their rostered holy hour of adoration. Many are immigrants from the Pacific and India, used to longer hours of prayer in their home countries; they often cope with late hours and shift work in this their new home,” she said.
“We know of people who come directly to Mount St Mary’s on arriving in New Zealand because they have already heard about our perpetual adoration. And there are many stories
of prayers answered.
“Currently about half of the 85 on the roster come from other Catholic parishes in Auckland. We’re not a large congregation, so we would struggle to continue perpetual eucharistic adoration without the prayerful commitment of Catholics from these other
“And,” she said, “we welcome anyone who would like to be involved.”