Aug. 12 premiere documents Utica adoration chapel
By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer
UTICA — Perpetual adoration is going strong in the Eastern Region of the Syracuse Diocese, attracting worshipers from 30 parishes to the Perpetual Adoration Chapel at the rear of St. Joseph-St. Patrick’s Rectory.
Founded over 16 years ago, the chapel is staffed 24 hours a day by hundreds of volunteers who take turns praying before the exposed Blessed Sacramant.
On Tuesday, Aug. 12, at 7 p.m., a documentary about the chapel was shown at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica. The documentary, entitled Watch With Me, was produced by former local residents Karey and Ryan Nobles, who moved to Virginia last fall.
When Karey was a parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Utica, she heard a visiting priest from New England speak at her parish about the benefits of perpetual adoration. She felt compelled to participate in the devotion at St. Joseph-St. Patrick. “I felt called by the Lord,” said Karey. “My involvement has completely changed my life. My relationship with God has soared to a new level.”
After Karey became a perpetual adorer, she was intrigued by the devotion. “Despite being a cradle Catholic, I spent most of my life in the dark about adoration,” said Karey. “I didn’t know it existed outside of Holy Thursday, and I definitely had never heard of perpetual adoration. We hope this movie helps to introduce Catholics and non-Catholics alike to this form of devotional prayer and that it may even be used by the Holy Spirit to call some to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament.”
Perpetual Eucharistic adoration is the uninterrupted adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for 24 hours a day and goes back to the 17th century. Lay men and women have been taking part in this devotion in increasing numbers for decades.
Perpetual adoration at St. Joseph-St. Patrick’s Parish got its start following a visit by pastor Father Antone Kandrac, OFM Conv., and Betty Frank, SFO, to the Sacred Heart Conference in Syracuse in 1991. They were inspired when they heard Father Martin Lucia, director of the Apostolate of Eucharistic Adoration from Mt. Clemens, Mich., speak.
Under the guidance of Father Victor Warkulwicz of Bensalem, Pa., Frank gathered seven coordinators and 180 adorers. The Adoration Chapel opened March 4, 1992, in the rectory chapel, with its own outside entrance.
In June 2002 the Adoration Chapel was completely renovated. Then, in 2005, a monstrance, blessed by Pope John Paul II on Easter Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, was added to the chapel. The monstrance was a gift from the Legionairies of Christ and was designed to appear like a gold sun with rays emanating from the Host held in the center opening by a lunette which allows the Host to be seen.
Utica’s perpetual adoration program is a lay-run ministry, one that supports the call of Vatican II to promote the involvement of the laity in the mission of the church. Frank continues to coordinate, with the help of several others, more than 350 men and women adorers who worship in the chapel one hour weekly. “By going to the holy hour,” said Frank, “we are able to quiet ourselves and it helps us to encounter a personal relationship with Jesus. One has to experience His special love.” Frank tells the adorers that they can do whatever they want to do in their allotted hour and many recite the rosary, read Scripture and pray.
“Because there are two to three people there at the same time, the adorers form a bond of friendship and they become a source of support to one another,” said Frank. “Personally, it increases my faith greatly because I witness what Jesus is doing. These people are inspirations to me — they are so strong because of their relationship with the Lord.”
Mike Dziura, parishioner at Historic Old St. John’s Church in Utica, is one adorer who has greatly impressed and inspired Frank. “He recites the rosary better than any priest I’ve heard,” remarked Frank. “I don’t know of anyone who is more devout than Mike.”
Dziura has been an adorer since the inception of perpetual adoration at the chapel. He said that the time he spends in perpetual adoration is “my greatest hour of the week.”
“It’s me and Jesus, all alone, one-on-one,” said Dziura. “Jesus is melting my heart. My nourishment comes from visiting the Blessed Sacrament. I never leave without some type of spiritual motivation.”
“I was so intrigued by the devotion that I set out to document the stories of several adorers in Watch With Me,” said Karey, who directed the movie. “While in the chapel, I asked the Lord what He wanted me to do with my life and I began to feel called to make this documentary.”
The movie tells the story of the chapel and features interviews with some of the people who pray there. It also includes the music of local musician Sean Clive.
DVDs of the documentary are available through the Web site www.watchwithmemovie.com.