By Charles Albert
The Sooner Catholic
“You have given up everything to follow someone you have grown to admire and love. Christ asks you to pray with him and keep watch for just one hour on the night before he dies. Instead of doing this small favor, you fall asleep” (Matthew 26:40).
Can you imagine the guilt of the 12 apostles? Just as his apostles, we are called to spend time in devout prayer with the most important priority of our life – Jesus Christ.
Saint Monica in Edmond, has had 24-hour perpetual adoration since August 2000, and the numbers are staggering. Over the years, more than 250,000 hours have been devoted to prayer to the Blessed Sacrament. The program was founded under Father Anthony Taylor, now Bishop Taylor of the Diocese of Little Rock, and features two worshippers per hour, or 336 scheduled adorers per week, in vigil in front of the Blessed Sacrament, in all types of weather.
Most churches are challenged to find volunteers for First Friday or 40-hour devotions.
Saint Monica’s program is under the spiritual direction of Father Stephen Hamilton and coordinator Rhonda Wilkinson.
Father Hamilton said the parish was founded in 1993 and has been devoted to various types of stewardship.
“When people think of stewardship, they think of financial support, but the most important part of stewardship is making Jesus Christ the center of your life. One way of doing this is the stewardship of giving your time and spending it with the Blessed Sacrament.”
Many of the parishes that have made commitments to 24-hour adoration have been blessed with vocations and Saint Monica is among them. The first son of the parish to become a priest, Father Kelly Edwards, celebrated his First Mass on June 25, 2017, at Saint Monica. The parish has an additional two seminarians studying to be priests. Saint Monica also had two young women spend several months at the convent to discern a religious vocation.
Father Hamilton and Wilkinson said some of the challenges of perpetual adoration are keeping the lists fresh with new people. Weather also can play havoc with people getting to and from their assigned times. However, they both recommend that every parish consider some form of Blessed Sacrament devotion.
“You would like think the people who do it in the wee hours of the morning would be the biggest challenge, but they report those hours are the most rewarding,” Wilkinson said.
A 4 a.m. worshipper reported, “I can give Him an hour - and He fills me with peace and love I didn't know I had in me!”
Charles Albert is a freelance writer for the Sooner Catholic.