PIQUA—The Catholic parishes in Piqua, Saint Mary and Saint Boniface, will celebrate 20 years of providing a special gift to the community: a chapel open 24-hours a day for adoration and prayer.
The chapel, named for Saint Clare, is unique in another way. The Eucharist—the bread that Catholics believe is changed into the Body of Jesus as part of the Mass—is displayed with honor for the faithful to visit and adore.
The anniversary will be celebrated at both parishes with a week of activities.
Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr will offer Mass at St. Boniface Church Sunday, Oct. 31 at 2 p.m., joined by area clergy. At the end of the Mass, the Archbishop, carrying the Eucharist, will lead a procession from the church to the chapel to enthrone the Lord once more for the faithful to adore. A reception in the Father Angelo Caserta Center will conclude the day’s festivities.
The celebration Mass will involve choirs from both parishes and children from Piqua Catholic School.
In the week following the Mass, the Rev. Larry Villone, Missionary of the Blessed Sacrament, will conduct a Eucharistic Conference at Saint Mary Church on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 4 and 5 at 7 p.m. with talks on prayer and spiritual growth.
Each evening’s talk will be preceded with music and conclude after one hour. Thursday’s talk is called, “Why do we have to pray”; Friday’s talk is “Is pride becoming an obstacle to your spiritual growth.”
Priests will be available afterward for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Father Villone will also preach at all Masses at both parishes on Saturday, Nov. 7 and Sunday, Nov. 8th on the power and blessing of adoring Jesus in the Eucharist.
The idea of setting aside a chapel for continuous adoration of Jesus started in May 1990 when then pastor of St. Boniface Church, Rev. Angelo Caserta, and a group of parishioners contacted the Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament, who have helped hundreds of parishes start a Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Members of both parishes quickly filled every hour of the week; surprisingly, the night hours filled first.
On December 1, 1990, a Mass in St. Boniface Church was followed by a procession with the Eucharist to St. Clare Chapel in the basement below. “There our Lord remains, always welcoming all who seek him, 20 years later,” commented Father Caserta—although now retired, still lives in Piqua and continues his ministry there.
Organizing hundreds of volunteers to keep a constant vigil 168 hours a week, night and day, falls to several key volunteers.
“The love for this chapel can be seen in gradual changes over the years,” observed Father Martin Fox, pastor of both parishes. “The stations of the cross were put up by former pastor, Father Rick Unwin. A parishioner skilled in stained-glass designed the window near the altar and two more for the stairway. Others helped make the bathroom more accessible. Various works of art have found a home there over the years inspiring devotion to the Lord and zeal to imitate His saints,” Fox explained.
“Last year, one of our seniors in high school organized a group of his fellow Boy Scouts to re-paint and re-carpet the chapel. For those few days adoration moved upstairs into the main church,” Fox added.
“Our Lord said he would remain with us always—and he’s keeping that promise,” Father Caserta observed.