July 22-Aug. 4, 2004
One Hour With Him
By Eileen Jevis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Nocturnal Adoration Society in Syracuse Places First in NYS for Number of Hours in Prayer
Forty-five members of the Syracuse chapter of the Nocturnal Adoration Society (NAS) ranked first in New York State and third in the U.S. in 2003 for the number of hours its members spent in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. The members, who meet once a month at Transfiguration Church for Mass, praying the rosary in adoration, logged a total of 1,566 hours at Transfiguration and other local churches. According to the NAS newsletter, St. Patrick’s Church in Binghamton came in third in New York State when its 108 members logged 1,175 hours of prayer.
The Nocturnal Adoration Society is an association of Catholics dedicated to praying before the Eucharist for the needs of the church and the world at large. The members come together at night before the exposed Blessed Sacrament at a designated hour to respond to Christ’s invitation to keep prayerful vigil with Him. Keeping a vigil at night is symbolic of the Agony in the Garden and draws attention to Jesus as the source of light and goodness amid human weakness and sin. “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Sit down here while I pray. Remain here and stay awake.’ He advanced a little and fell to the ground, praying that if it were possible this hour might pass him by. When he returned, He said to Peter, ‘Asleep, Simon? You could not stay awake for even an hour?’” (Mark 14:32-37)
The purpose of the NAS is to unite its members in prayer and to deepen their experience of communion with Christ. By focusing their attention on the exposed Eucharist, members seek to internalize and give witness to the significance of the Eucharist in their Christian lives. On June 10, during a celebration for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Pope John Paul II announced the forthcoming year as the Year of the Eucharist. It will open in at the International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico in October 2004 and will end in October 2005 at the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Its theme will be “The Eucharist, source and summit of the life and mission of the church.” “The Eucharist is the center of the Church’s life,” said Pope John Paul at the Corpus Christi procession. “In it Christ offers himself to the Father for our sake, making us sharers in his own sacrifice, and gives himself to us as the bread of life for our journey on the highways of the world.”
“In light of what the Holy Father said, we wait in great anticipation as he travels to Mexico in October where he will declare this a special year of the Eucharist,” said Father Thomas Kobuszewski, pastor of Transfiguration Church. “The Holy Father reminds us of the great treasure, the great gift we have in the Holy Eucharist.” John Shuron, president of the Syracuse Chapter of NAS, spends an hour each day in adoration in addition to his monthly attendance at Transfiguration for the NAS service. He said that the group prays for present and deceased members of the society as well as for peace and in reparation of sin in the world. “We also pray for reparation for the scandals that have taken place in the church,” said Shuron. “Prayer is a powerful thing. Through the power of prayer, we hope that more men will enter the priesthood, despite the bad publicity. We can overcome those obstacles through prayer,” he said.
Robert O’Connell, past president and member of the NAS since the late 1970s, has found spending an hour each month in prayer and adoration a very meaningful experience. “It’s something extra special to pray for world peace,” said O’Connell. He finds the commitment easier now than in the past when the adoration lasted the entire night. “Right now, it’s easy,” he said. “It’s only one hour a month at Transfiguration.”
O’Connell said that while the number of members in the NAS has dwindled in recent years, the numbers have increased diocese-wide as more parishes offer their own nocturnal adoration. “But we’ve accomplished our purpose,” he said. “There are more Nocturnal Adoration Societies in different parishes throughout the diocese. That’s one of the things we prayed for.” Today, the Nocturnal Adoration Society is established in 36 countries and has more than one million members. Membership is open to all Catholics. For additional information on the Nocturnal Adoration Society, contact John Shuron at (315) 468-4692.