Thornhill chapel keeps Eucharist in good company for 25 years

  • February 19, 2010
{mosimage}THORNHILL, Ont. - For the past 25 years, before 6 a.m. every Sunday, parishioner Eva Parisi stops by St. Paschal Baylon Church’s Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Adoration Chapel to keep watch over the Eucharist.

Perpetual eucharistic adoration is an ancient tradition that’s been kept alive for the past quarter century at Catholic churches, including Thornhill’s St. Paschal Baylon.

For at least an hour, parishioners like Parisi have been keeping watch over the Eucharist at the church’s Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Adoration Chapel on a 24-hour rotation.

This year’s quarter-century celebration will feature Masses the week of March 1 and spiritual talks about the Eucharist. Bishop Peter Hundt will celebrate the final Mass of the 25th anniversary celebration on March 7, followed by a procession to the adoration chapel for a re-dedication ceremony.

For Parisi, who is one of the founding organizers of the perpetual adoration at the parish, keeping up with the adoration has been a commitment she has continued even in her retirement years. Her family has been at the parish for 50 years and her three children were married at the church.

Asked why she’s kept up her early Sunday morning shift (she now comes in from 6 to 7 a.m. instead of 5 to 6 a.m. before she retired), Parisi said it’s because she takes her responsibilities and her faith seriously.

“I always thought God was there,” she said.

It’s a tradition that Parisi learned in her childhood. As a nine-year-old and in her early teens, Parisi recalls making a 20-minute solitary trek to and from church in Port McNicoll, Ont., twice daily to attend Mass in the morning and Benediction in the evening.

Meanwhile, retired mechanic Romeo Capulong, 64, has been volunteering at the chapel since 1987. He first signed up for Holy Hour after praying at the chapel for the healing of his wife. He said soon after he started praying there, the cyst behind his wife’s kidney stopped growing. Capulong and his wife, Loy, now pray together during his usual Tuesday and Thursday one-hour shift.

Capulong said he appreciates the silence and has received spiritual  benefits from his visits.

“If I have some problems I encounter, I go there and tell it to God that these things are happening to me,” he said. “I feel more relaxed and comfortable.”

The 24-hour perpetual adoration was started in the parish by Fr. Francis Geremia, CS, on March 3, 1985.

Currently, there are four co-ordinators for the adoration vigil. Day-time and evening volunteers can sign up at the church every day. Early morning volunteers sign up in advance because the doors of the chapel are locked after midnight for security reasons. Parisi said there is always at least one person per hour each day who keeps watch at the chapel, with some people dropping by throughout the day.

Parisi notes that there are some younger people who have casually dropped by for a visit at the chapel. Although it’s not a widespread tradition in most churches any longer, Parisi hopes younger parishioners will rediscover the tradition and keep the chapel open 24 hours a day another 25 years.

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