March 10, 2017

United in the Eucharist: Perpetual adoration chapel gives life to parish once marked by ‘heavy hearts’

Father Jonathan Meyer, pastor of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County, second from left, and Deacon Robert Decker, joins several altar servers and other parishioners in praying before the Blessed Sacrament on March 1 in the Batesville Deanery faith community’s new perpetual adoration chapel on its St. John the Baptist campus in Dover. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Father Jonathan Meyer, pastor of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County, second from left, and Deacon Robert Decker, joins several altar servers and other parishioners in praying before the Blessed Sacrament on March 1 in the Batesville Deanery faith community’s new perpetual adoration chapel on its St. John the Baptist campus in Dover. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

DOVER—Three years ago, many members of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County in southeastern Indiana had heavy hearts as they continued to struggle with the merger a few months earlier of four parishes in the area into All Saints.

On the evening of March 1, Ash Wednesday, many of those same hearts were filled with faith and hope.

Former Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin announced to the parish on March 1, 2014, that Father Jonathan Meyer would be its new pastor and would seek to help them become one faith community.

The building up of that unity on display three years to the day later, Father Meyer said, was the working of “tremendous grace from our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of his Holy Spirit.”

On that recent windswept night, Father Meyer led scores of parishioners in a eucharistic procession that ended in the inauguration of a perpetual adoration chapel on the St. John the Baptist campus of All Saints Parish.

Paul Weckenbrock, previously a member of the former St. Martin Parish in Yorkville, was among the first parishioners to pray in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel. He serves on a parish committee that helped organize the chapel.

(Related: Perpetual adoration chapels in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis)

Seeing the small chapel filled to overflowing that night was powerful for Weckenbrock.

“It’s awesome. It took my breath away,” said an emotional Weckenbrock. “It was really beautiful to see our Lord present and the people worshipping, catching a whiff of incense and the prayers that were all said.

“It’s my prayer that it will deepen people’s faith and hope, will bring people together more in one mind.”

All Saints parishioners have done much to come together during the past three years. The Batesville Deanery faith community sponsors an annual “Gobble Wobble” 5K run and walk around Thanksgiving to raise funds for local food banks.

Parishioners have banded together to show care for the sick and shut-ins. And the parish helps organize an annual Catholic men’s conference that draws hundreds of participants, the second of which took place at East Central High School in St. Leon on March 4.

But Father Meyer said that all of these efforts must be built on prayer to continue.

“None of that is going to be able to be sustained if we are not, first and foremost, being fed in silent prayer,” he said. “The need for my people … to enter into silence is what is going to allow our new adventures in service to our brothers and sisters in need, in catechesis, in us becoming all the more united as a community.”

That unity is expressed in several physical ways in the chapel. Monstrances from each of All Saints’ four campuses will be used in the chapel on a four-month rotating cycle.

Other items in the chapel, including its altar, a pew, tabernacle and images of saints all came from its four campuses.

Unity with the broader Church in central and southern Indiana is manifested in the chapel by donations of other items—such as holy water fonts, kneeling benches and a votive candle stand—from several archdiocesan parishes.

That unity of All Saints’ parishioners was put into action on Feb. 7, three weeks before the inauguration of the chapel, when committee members called members who had expressed a willingness to commit to an hour of adoration each week.

(Related: Priests reflect on positive influence of perpetual adoration chapels)

It was “sign-up night,” and the committee wanted to fill the 336 slots of adoration—two people for each hour of each week. After an evening of phone calls, nearly every slot was filled.

“I was apprehensive,” said committee member and parishioner Annie Oelker. “I’m not going to lie about it. But everybody was so gracious. They were happy to be part of the initiative and [take] their hour.”

While Oelker and other committee members worked to get parishioners to support the chapel, others simply worked.

All Saints parishioner Zach Hoffman put in many long nights to renovate a room in a former school building built in 1865 on the St. John campus for use as the chapel.

“There were a lot of nights up here until midnight, 12:30 at night,” said Hoffman, 38, who grew up in the former St. John Parish. “Then I’d go home and go to work in the morning.”

Working alongside Hoffman was his 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth, who applied her volunteer labor to achieve the Girl Scouts’ Gold Award, its highest honor.

“It’s helped me be more respectful toward people who put in all this time to make something look good, even if you walk through it and don’t notice it,” Elizabeth said. “Now that you’ve been through a project like this, you notice that it took forever to do. You appreciate it a lot more.”

She, too, was in the chapel when it was inaugurated.

“It was amazing to see that something that you, your family and just people around you have put in time to do being used and seeing people happy in it. It put a smile on my face,” Elizabeth said.

“It’s the next step in our parish,” added Zach. “It’s a great opportunity for all the parishioners to get to know each other and grow deeper in faith together.”

His daughter is among those whose faith will be affected by the chapel.

“I’ll be coming in all the time,” Elizabeth said. “I would like to pray more. Doing this kind of project will help me to come in here more to pray and grow closer to God.”

“In the past three years, God has done tremendous things,” said Father Meyer during a homily in the Mass at the

St. John the Baptist campus church that preceded the inauguration of the chapel. “He’s united us. He’s given us a bond. He’s created a community that is strong, dynamic and full of life.

“This chapel, I believe, is the capstone. It’s the crowning glory of what God has done. And it will completely humble us when we begin to realize that God has so much more for every single one of us.” †

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