Every first Saturday of the month, families gather at St. Joseph Church in South Bend to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration. This time is set aside as “Children’s Adoration” where families are encouraged to bring their little ones, noises and all, to spend some time with Jesus without worrying about disturbing other parishioners.
Adoration takes place in the Reservation Chapel, behind the altar, creating an intimate and cozy space for children to be able to be just a few feet away from Jesus in the Eucharist. Incense fills the air, signaling to the children that there is something different and important about what is about to happen. Liturgically appropriate coloring pages and crayons are available for the children to be able to color while in the presence of the Lord. Throughout the hour, music plays in the background. Two different songs are sung and families are encouraged to join in. Near the end of the time, rosary chaplets are distributed and a decade of the rosary is said. Benediction then takes place and children are invited to run around outside on the grass following the end of Adoration.
On April 2, six families with a combined 17 children gathered to spend this intentional time with the Lord. From a 4-month-old baby up through grade- school-aged children, each child got to experience time with Jesus in an age-appropriate way. The children alternated between kneeling and staring up at the monstrance, laying down coloring a picture of Palm Sunday and rocking back and forth in time with the music. Lorena Smith, a five-year-old participant, said, “I think it’s the best time to pray when we are with Jesus. I feel the most safest when I am with Jesus.”
Father Matt Fase, CSC, the Associate Pastor of St. Joseph Church, led the exposition and benediction of the Eucharist this month and has frequently participated in the Children’s Adoration throughout the past year. He said, “I absolutely love seeing the number of people who come and especially the time it gives the parents. It’s been so beautiful being able to watch the parents be able to pray and not worry about whether their kid is making noise. Being able to give parents that space has really been a beautiful gift.”
Annie Tarr, organizer of the monthly event, agreed with Father Fase’s sentiments saying, “It’s a time where my husband and I can come and pray together and give the kids a chance to simply be around Jesus. But it’s one of the only times that my husband and I are able to make it to adoration together, and I feel that our marriage is being blessed by both of us being in the presence of the Lord together.”
Tarr has been helping organize the Children’s Adoration for about a year now. She became inspired to get involved when her six-year-old daughter Clara asked when Children’s Adoration was going to start back up again after restrictions from the pandemic began to lift. She said, “Our kids have made little comments about the Mass and receiving Jesus that have demonstrated that they understand that this is the most important part of the Mass, but I think being around Jesus in the Eucharist has shown them that this is the source and summit of our faith.”
Shayla Blaschko brought her three children, ages five, three and one, and said, “Children’s Adoration has been such a beautiful way to reiterate to our children that Jesus is for them, and the Church welcomes them here. Our time together at adoration always stirs up questions about Jesus and our faith. I’m so grateful to have this sacred place to worship with my children, to teach them about our faith, and to watch their hearts be set aflame for Jesus.” Her son Solomon, who is five years old, said, “I think that adoration is special because we get to be at the church and we get to be with Jesus. I ask Jesus to bless my family and my friends.”
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