Across the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, guardians and adorers walk among us. These dedicated Catholics don’t stand out in a crowd. They are retirees, employees, community leaders, business owners, grandparents, parents, sons and daughters—and they have one thing in common: A commitment to spend at least one hour a week with Jesus in adoration.
In 1981, just a few years after becoming pope, Pope St. John Paul II started Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration at the Vatican. Over the next decade, Catholic churches picked up the practice. In 1990, Father Angelo Caserta, pastor at St. Boniface Church in Piqua, OH, established St. Clare Chapel as a perpetual adoration chapel in a renovated storeroom under the church.
“The chapel is so special to me, it’s just a place of love, healing and joy,” said Ann Epperly, great-niece of Father Caserta. “Through the chapel, God has brought me so many wonderful people in my life. We just encourage each other on our faith journey. It’s a place of beauty.”
Now, Ann and her husband, Mike, are instrumental in keeping the chapel going. When she became a coordinator, Ann enlisted Mike, a retired teacher and new parishioner at St. Boniface, to substitute for open hours. He proposed to her in the St. Clare Chapel in August of 2020, and the two married Dec. 19, 2020. Mike still subs when needed, and he and Mary Jane Karn are currently the coordinators for adoration hours.
“Before I moved to Piqua in 2017, I was going through a family situation and I lived nine miles away in another city, Sidney. I didn’t even know about the chapel, and then friends of the family told me about it,” said Mike. “It’s just a chance to get away from the noise and the garbage of the world.”
A handful of original Eucharistic Guardians, people committed to an hour or more each week to be with Jesus, remain dedicated to their time in St. Clare Chapel. The COVID-19 lockdowns forced St. Clare Chapel to close, but when the world slowly opened up again, the chapel followed suit, Mike said. Initially open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, hours were gradually added. St. Clare Chapel is now open 150 of the 168 hours in a week.
The adoration chapel at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Liberty Township also dates back to the 1990s, when a few parishioners felt called to perpetual adoration. After a trial of two nights a week in the rectory’s basement chapel (there was no church at the time), the adoration program expanded. Its home also expanded when a new church was built in 2001 that included an Adoration Chapel accessible from both inside and outside the church.
Kathy Hinger, Debbie Krzmarzick and Debby Kellner are members of the adoration team at St. Max. They have heard many times what a gift the chapel has been because access to it is now 24/7.
“We have had relatives of deceased members who can’t attend overseas funerals grateful to be able to come to the chapel late at night and pray while services are going on in different time zones. We have heard comments from non-Catholics praising the fact that there is a church open where you can always pray. Additionally, we have heard how family members praying in adoration have brought fallen away Catholics back to the faith,” they said.
As pastor at St. Gertrude Church in Cincinnati, Father André-Joseph, O.P. started 40 hours of adoration during Lent in 2014, with the goal of perpetual adoration. Parishioners Kevin and Anne Lynch were called upon to build the Mother of Mercy Adoration Chapel next to the church parish center, while parishioner Mary Pung was instrumental in coordinating sign-ups. The chapel opened its doors in June 2014 and maintained a steady flow of adorers until the pandemic.
Today, the chapel is open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. with overnight hours on Wednesdays. The testimonies of the gifts received from being in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament are endless, including conversions to the Catholic faith, stronger prayer lives and healing from past hurts, anxiety and brokenness.
“When I first entered the adoration chapel, I knew it was consecrated ground that held a peace like no other,” stated one Eucharistic Guardian from Mother of Mercy Adoration Chapel.
For those new to adoration, Ann Epperly suggests spending part of your time in silence, asking for direction.
“When it’s placed on your heart to even go into the chapel, if you’re even thinking, ‘Oh gosh, I’m kind of curious about this,’ the Holy Spirit is placing something on your heart and I think you should pursue it, and go and check it out. And give yourself an uninterrupted 10 or 15 minutes. Go in and see what it’s about. Just sit in front of that monstrance and you will leave changed,” she said.
This article appeared in the February 2023 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.