Spreading hope in Jesus

  • May 14, 2010
Fr. Antoine ThomasTORONTO - The man who travels the world bringing eucharistic adoration to children captivated young spirits and old at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church in Toronto May 11.

Fr. Antoine Thomas, a native of France, has been leading children in adoration of Jesus for 15 years and his adoration program, “Children of Hope,” is widely used in parishes around the world. His rare Ontario visit began in Midland, Ont., followed by the May 11 session at the Toronto church, which was also to host two Toronto primary schools for a session May 12. More than 100 people joined his Tuesday Holy Hour at Blessed Trinity.

The evening started early with a procession and was punctuated by music that included a children’s choir with musical accompaniment. The priest also sang and played his guitar.

When music and prayer weren’t a focus, Thomas explained adoration to the children, inviting them to gather and prostrate themselves on the carpet before the sanctuary, facing the monstrance.

“We must teach the children to adore body and soul,” he said afterwards. “Adoration is the fundamental prayer that priests and catechists should teach children because it teaches them the attitude of respect for God.”

Teaching this to children between the ages of five and 12 has a lasting impact on their relationship with God because it helps them to understand that to be friends with Jesus, you need to spend time with Him — like you would with any other close friend, he said.

“Children ages six to nine are the most receptive. They live in the present moment, they don’t doubt (the stories of Jesus), they openly receive and they don’t count the time like adults do. And that’s why if they understand at an early age that the habit of eucharistic adoration is to make a real friend with Jesus, that it is normal to spend time with Jesus, (they will return to that),” he said.

Thomas recently heard from college students whom he led in adoration 15 years ago. Though they might have lapsed in the practice during their teen years, they returned to it as young adults.

Joon Chai, a 12-year-old who attended with his Catholic scouts group, the Federation of North American Explorers, said Thomas’ approach was something special.

“I felt closer to God. Fr. Antoine really knows how to talk to children and he helped me to understand better how to do adoration,” Chai said.

Antonio Kim, 11, also an Explorer, said, “This was the best adoration. It felt most blessing. I felt like I got a lot of graces and I felt overwhelmed just to be with (Antoine and God).”

Lina Serrano, 12, said adoration with Antoine was “beautiful and interesting” but she enjoys adoration in general.

“I like that you can change your whole self and transform yourself into someone new,” Serrano said.

Paul Ritchi, the Explorer’s leader, said the group invited Fr. Antoine to enhance the children’s understanding of adoration, which the group has been exposed to over the past year.

“Within the FNE Explorers we have seen how our youth have responded so strongly to the opportunity to participate in the eucharistic adoration, with great sense of joy, excitement, true deep worship and awe, and walking away in some cases profoundly changed,” he said.

For more, visit www.childrenofhope.org.

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