By Deacon Tom Picciano
Sun contributing writer
ENDWELL — It’s been 20 years since the Perpetual Adoration Chapel was opened at Our Lady of Angels Parish. Although Our Lady of Angels merged with Christ the King in 2008 to become the Church of the Holy Family, little else has changed for the first such chapel in the Syracuse Diocese.
Adoration continues seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The time spent before the Blessed Sacrament is 168 hours each week. More than 7,000 hours have been logged since the chapel opened on Oct. 13, 1990.
The idea for the chapel came about when the paths of two Marys converged. Mary Barton had heard of an adoration chapel at her mother’s parish in Honesdale, Pa. That parish had started a chapel in May of 1990.
“I had always thought it would be nice to go into some place at night or some other time when you wanted to pray,” she said. “Mom was telling me this was 24/7. I just thought it was so neat, so I talked to the girl who was coordinating it down there. She gave me her information of whom to contact as far as the national program goes.”
Not long after, Barton was sitting next to Mary Armstrong at a church function. They really didn’t know each other well. Barton mentioned the chapel idea.
“Before that I had been praying for a long time,” Armstrong said. “We had the feast of the Sacred Heart and the feast of the Immaculate Heart from 9 o’clock at night to 6 o’clock in the morning. Quite a few adoration. So I was so floored when she mentioned that.”
It just happened to be the same time that the parish was putting a classroom/office addition on the building. The plans included space for a meditation chapel. They spoke to the pastor who gave the go-ahead. And with approval of then Bishop Joseph O’Keefe, the planning started.
The bishop requested that the women speak with every parish in the Western Broome County Cluster. “It was interesting because of how many people from the different churches from the cluster who thought they’d sign up for one week. They didn’t really get the word ‘perpetual,’” said Armstrong.
Barton said people would ask how long the chapel would be for, to which she would answer: “It’s perpetual. In a way it kind of scared them off. I said to them there are going to be times when you can’t come. There’s going to be subs. As long as there is one person in that hour. It took awhile.”
The women say a parishioner who had a strong devotion to the Eucharist was diagnosed with cancer and offered his suffering to the success of the chapel. He donated $2,000 for statues in the chapel, but died in August 1990, two months before it opened.
“Mary and I both think that suffering is one of the most powerful forms of prayer. And it think that was one of the greatest things.” Armstrong said. “We’ve talked with many other people to help them to start. We always say, get someone who suffers for you.”
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the chapel, a Mass and dinner were held recently at Holy Family Church. More than 250 people attended the event.
Armstrong and Barton continue the work they’ve done for two decades. Yet they’ve seen some of those who spent regular time at the chapel grow too old to continue. And they’ve been encouraged by some younger people becoming adorers. But they still have about four or five hours that they’re looking to fill. People from any parish close to Endwell who are willing to give up an hour a week are welcome to take part.
“We have been very blessed. Our adorers are very faithful. They are very strong,” said Barton.
“You’d be amazed at how many called and said that was the best hour of my week. How many call and say I needed to be with our Lord,” Armstrong said. “We get that all the time — how grateful they are with all their joys and sorrows.”
“Both Mary and I know that we are only the instruments,” Armstrong added. “That it is God’s work and it’s the Blessed Mother helping us all the way.”
People interested in becoming part of Our Lady of Angels Perpetual Adoration Chapel at Holy Family Parish can call Mary Armstrong at (607) 785-5840 or Mary Barton (607) 785-8877.
“Whoever wants to can,” Armstrong said. “We’d love to greet them with open arms.”