Don Lane served for years as the religious education coordinator at St. Anthony Church in St. Cloud. His wife, Joanne, said he was the driving force in beginning what may be the first and longest-running parish to have perpetual eucharistic adoration.
His quest began in 1991, before the current church building even existed. Don, along with Joanne and others who were committed to the concept, formed small prayer groups who gathered regularly and prayed that they could get the idea off the ground.
“St. Anthony’s has always been a church of prayer,” Joanne said. “In the old church, you could go and pray any time and there was always someone there praying. It was when they added an elevator in the old church that a classroom became accessible and that’s where we started adoration,” Joanne recalled.
That was Jan. 12, 1995; and when St. Anthony’s dedicated a new church building in 2001, it included a separate eucharistic adoration chapel. This is now it’s 28th year being open 24 hours, seven days a week, with a few exceptions during liturgical holidays.
Over the years, the need for adorers has waxed and waned, and it especially took a hit during the pandemic. Last fall, Nicky Carlson, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Waite Park, heard about the need for help organizing and finding more people to participate. She felt called to step forward to assist.
“It is such an important part of our community that I just want more people to experience it,” Carlson said.
Carlson herself first encountered the real presence of Jesus while coming forward for a blessing at a Catholic church in the Twin Cities several years ago. She grew up Baptist, and as a young adult her natural curiosity inspired her to ask questions about her faith and explore other traditions. While discerning with a Catholic priest, she often sat in the pew during Communion until he encouraged her to go through the line to receive the blessing.
“I was a little unsure, but I went up,” Carlson said through tears, recalling the sacred moment. “I could see the person next to me about to receive the host and, as the priest was holding it up, I truly saw Jesus present in the Eucharist.”
Because of her profound love and respect for the Eucharist, Carlson has found that, in addition to her love of Mass, she has a deep devotion to eucharistic adoration and wants others to have the opportunity to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament whenever they are able.
“Spending time [in adoration] helps you learn to live in the quiet and allows you to hear God’s voice,” Carlson said. “For me, it’s the only place I can really do that. There is noise everywhere. Having a place where you can go and really listen is important. When I look at Jesus in the monstrance, I feel like I am making eye contact with him. When I think about how many people are allowing Jesus into their lives, I can just imagine what that does for our whole community.”
Joanne added that she, too, is always touched by the ways adoration speaks to people in different times of their lives.
“We don’t know all the little things — or big things — happening in people’s lives but we know a lot of people come through here, some who are members and many who are not. We also see a lot of young people discerning vocations come here to pray. It is always so encouraging to see that,” she said.
Carlson has been so moved by the commitment and dedication of those who sign up for holy hours, sometimes multiple times a week, and people who drive from all over to come and spend time in the chapel. While the response is great, Carlson said there is always a need for more adorers. Interested people can contact her at email@example.com.
“When I look on our schedule and see how many people are committed, it is just overwhelming. Some have multiple hours, some come in the middle of the night, some come multiple days each week. Some people come alone, some bring their families. I just want that for more people.”
Since Joanne’s husband, Don, died in 2011, she has continued his legacy as an adorer and wants to encourage others to give it a try. For those who haven’t experienced it, the unknown can feel uncomfortable.
“Sometimes people don’t know what to expect or what to do when they first go, but all I can think of is what Mother Teresa said, just ‘come and see.’”
‘Come and see’ event
Joanne, Nicky and others are planning a retreat-like event at St. Anthony’s June 17 to help people grow in their faith, especially in light of the National Eucharistic Revival that began nearly a year ago. (See box)
The event will begin with Mass at 9 a.m. with Bishop Patrick Neary and include talks by Father Brady Keller and Fred Blonigen, and “eucharistic love stories” from local people including Nicky’s testimony.
“My greatest hope is that people who don’t understand or know the Real Presence would come to that understanding, and for those who do, to deepen their love for Jesus,” Carlson said. “It’s the same thing I tell my eighth- and ninth-graders when I teach faith formation — I don’t teach you about the Mass, or prayer or the Eucharist so you can memorize the facts. It’s so you fall in love with the Mass, with prayer and with Jesus.”
If you go…
- When: Saturday, June 17
- Where: St. Anthony Church, St. Cloud
The day begins with Mass at 9 a.m. with Bishop Patrick Neary, C.S.C., followed by short talks from guest speakers Father Brady Keller and Fred Blonigen and with eucharistic love stories (testimonies) from local Catholics. Lunch will be available and requires an RSVP by visiting stcdio.org/eucharistic-revival. Following lunch will be a holy hour and Benediction.
For more information about this and other Eucharistic Revival resources, visit stcdio.org/eucharistic-revival.