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Parishes prepare youths to pray before the Blessed Sacrament

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Dozens of little feet padded up to the front of the adoration chapel at St. Timothy Church in Chantilly Aug. 9. The children bowed before the altar and soon learned why.

“What we are saying is that ‘I am small and humble, and you are big and God,’” said Father William B. Schierer, parochial vicar.

Kindergartners through fourth-graders listened attentively as Father Schierer taught them about Eucharistic adoration. Some fidgeted, trying to get comfortable, while others sat quietly with their hands folded in prayer. For about 15 minutes, the more than 55 students came in small groups to the chapel where Father Schierer asked them questions and instructed them how to pray during adoration.

“Jesus tells us to ‘let the children come to me,’ and the children, having been baptized, they deserve to be brought to pray with Our Lord, Jesus. But we also know that the apostles came to the Lord and said, ‘teach us to pray,’” said Father Schierer. “How important for us to fulfill that mandate, as well, to teach the children how to pray in adoration.”

Ina Carr, a recent convert to Catholicism, coordinated the event.

“For me, one of the most shocking components of being a Catholic is the reality of the Eucharist,” she said. “You can consume him and you’re really in his presence. It’s life-changing if you can know this reality when you’re a child. I’m 49.”

Carr and a team put together an opportunity for children to experience and learn about Eucharistic adoration. “(We wanted to) put that seed in children’s minds and hearts to expose them to Jesus and let them know that Jesus is there, he his real,” said Carr. “You can go anytime to the chapel to talk to him and build a relationship with him face to face.” 

Before moving to the chapel, students got an introduction to adoration from Father Schierer, sang a song, watched as teens re-enacted a play about a Eucharistic miracle and made crafts.

Narcisa Pena, who usually brings her children with her to adoration, brought her son to the event. “It’s very important because we have to teach them at an early age the importance of the Lord Jesus in the holy Eucharist and to spend time with him.”

Sandra Rogers, a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Lake Ridge, brought her son to St. Timothy. “In a world that is so full of noise and demands of going to the next thing, part of prayer is conversing with the Lord and a big part of that is listening,” said Rogers.

The children may have an opportunity to practice what they learned soon. The church began a holy half hour for families every first Wednesday of the month, followed by fellowship in the parish hall.

St. Timothy is not the only church to teach young children about adoration. Father Steven G. Oetjen, parochial vicar at St. James Church in Falls Church, first led adoration for American Heritage Girls who were working on a Eucharistic adoration patch last Spring.

“I decided to add a prayer and guided mediation to keep them engaged and teach them how to spend that time with Jesus,” he said. “I was expecting a lot of fidgeting and was impressed with how they did.”

Father Oetjen saw how well it went and brought the opportunity to others in the parish. “I thought it was a good way to get children involved in adoration,” he said. “I wanted to show what it is, help them get accustomed to it. It’s great for parents, as well, who might not have the opportunity to come if they are worried about the children or do not have babysitting available.”

The next adoration event at St. James will be Sept. 7 at 10 a.m. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019