Personal Encounter

Pack the Chapel

One of the things that I love about priestly ministry during the summer months is the opportunity to watch our youth grow at the various summer camps offered throughout my Diocese of Crookston.

The summer of 2022 saw the second year for the St. Teresa of Calcutta camp for our ninth and tenth graders. The camp opened at St. Philip’s in Bemidji with the Mass for Corpus Christi and the Year of Diocesan Revival kickoff for the Eucharistic Revival in the United States, along with our own diocesan celebration. Following the Mass, a Eucharistic procession took place along one of the main streets in Bemidji. Many of the campers took part and had roles within the procession (serving, cantoring, holding the canopy, etc.).

Young boy kneeling and praying in chapel

A Yearning for the Lord

The previous year during the camp, there was some good-natured grumbling one night when we announced an earlier wake-up time the following day so we could make it to our service projects on time. I responded in jest by saying, “Well, you could join the seminarians and me for a Holy Hour at 5:30 AM.” To my surprise, the kids cheered. (I’ll admit that, for a moment, I thought to myself, “Why did I open my mouth?! That’s my only quiet time of the day!”) The next morning, we had about five kids join us to pray before the tabernacle in the chapel.

For summer 2022, we decided to extend the invitation to the youth every day of the camp. There would be no exposition and nothing led—just come to the chapel and pray in silence before the tabernacle. The first Monday morning, seven campers joined us. On Tuesday morning, fourteen joined us. I was thrilled when, on Wednesday morning, twenty-five joined us.

A group of teens in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament

On Wednesday evening, one of the campers started a campaign to “pack the chapel” on Thursday morning. I went to bed at 1:30 AM and set an alarm for 4:50 AM. I woke with a start, full of energy, and reached for my phone to check the time. It was 4:50 AM on the dot. My alarm had not gone off. I whispered a silent prayer of gratitude to the Holy Spirit for waking me up and started to get ready for the day. As I was getting ready, I had a sense there would probably be a lot of campers for the Holy Hour this morning, so I decided to go down a little early and set up for adoration.

Once I had everything set up, I waited for the campers to arrive.

Over seventy campers and staff (out of eighty-five to ninety) voluntarily came to Jesus that morning and spent an hour of silent prayer before him at 5:30 AM. I believe it was the first fruits of the Eucharistic Revival to be harvested in our diocese!

A row of young men and boys praying

Eucharistic adoration is available at many parishes across our country. If you’ve never gone to adoration before, I invite you to stop in for fifteen to twenty minutes. Or stop in during any day of the week and make a short visit to Jesus in the tabernacle. Simply come and speak to him from your heart and then listen, and just be with him.