For the past 25 years straight, a parishioner has been engaged in Eucharistic prayer at the altar of the Adoration Chapel at St. Mark Catholic Church that is open 24 hours a day.
The tiny chapel is located in the parking lot of the church in Ama. Someone must be in the chapel at all times as long as the Eucharist is exposed.
Over its lifespan, the chapel has only closed for severe weather events such as hurricanes or the cold weather storm that recently dumped sleet on the area.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond came to the chapel last month to bless it upon its 25th anniversary and encouraged those who come to pray at the chapel to continue doing so.
“In our world it is difficult to find quiet and that can make it hard to pray. At St. Mark, parishioners and others seeking a place of peace can spend time in prayer and quiet reflection with our Lord in the Eucharist,” he said.
Aymond expressed his hope that the chapel can continue serving the area.
“I congratulate those men and women who have provided leadership for the last 25 years to make this possible. It is powerful to think that for 25 years, 24 hours a day this chapel has been open for people to come and worship the Lord,” he said.
The chapel began as a mission of Luling residents Randy Caire and Lilla Marie Lottinger in 1988.
Caire said he got the idea for the chapel after making a religious pilgrimage to Medjugroje, Yugoslavia.
“It was a very grace-filled experience to go over there. I went there in January 1988 and I was searching for a way to acquire that same dose of grace,” he said. “I came to understand that through Eucharistic adoration there were many special graces to be given by the Lord.”
Caire went to a local priest who suggested he contact Lottinger, who also underwent a pilgrimage to Medjugroje that year.
Together, Caire and Lottinger began canvassing local Catholic churches to find a spot for their proposed chapel that would serve as a place of Eucharistic prayer.
“We had a zeal to have Jesus and the Eucharist adored because of the ways our lives have been touched by the Eucharist. We wanted to start a chapel in the area to have it available not only for ourselves, but the whole community,” Lottinger said.
In late 1988 they began holding Eucharistic adoration masses at St. Mark, and shortly thereafter acquired the building that currently serves as the chapel.
“I think it was one of these utility buildings that came from one of the local chemical plants. Every now and then they have a building they use only temporarily,” Caire said. “It is a 12 by 20 foot building. There is the altar, there is the Eucharist on the altar and then there is a bathroom on the back. That’s it – two rooms.”
After a group pooled funds to purchase the building, it was opened to the community on the first day of Lent in 1989. Although the chapel is quite small, the action undertaken within is quite significant for those involved.
Volunteers commit themselves to praying in the chapel in at least one hour increments.
Lottinger said she spends hours each day in prayer in the chapel.
“We started this because we became aware of the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist and how everyone needs him. This is where we find the grace we need,” she said. Caire himself spends at least four hours per week praying in the chapel.
“Once you are accustomed to spending that one hour with Jesus, it is a very peaceful time. It is just silent time with Jesus. It is a very intoxicating experience if you can open your heart to it,” he said.
Caire likens the time spent in prayer to practicing any skill to make it better.
“You are actually practicing your faith. If you play baseball and want to throw a good pitch or football, you have to practice to get better. This is how you practice your faith,” he said. “You make sure that time is reserved for the day.”
The chapel is always looking for new volunteers to keep the string of unbroken prayer going.
“For the most part it is going out and asking people if they can take an hour out and pray at the chapel,” Caire said. “Just sit there in silence and open your heart to God.”
To volunteer at St. Mark’s Adoration Chapel, call Randy Caire at (504) 275-8762.
|Archbishop Gregory Aymond together with Father Ed Lauden pause for a blessing at St. Mark’s Adoration Chapel in Ama that has been open for prayer 24 hours a day for the past 25 years.|