Adorers find peace and blessings in Texarkana chapel

Jewel LeGrand, a member of St. Edward Church in Texarkana, has prayed before the Blessed Sacrament one hour a week since the chapel opened in 2004. Parishioners of Sacred Heart Church also participate in adoration.
Jewel LeGrand, a member of St. Edward Church in Texarkana, has prayed before the Blessed Sacrament one hour a week since the chapel opened in 2004. Parishioners of Sacred Heart Church also participate in adoration.

TEXARKANA — At St. Edward’s adoration chapel, where prayer is offered continuously before the Blessed Sacrament, two baskets hold journals filled with testimonies of answered prayers.

Prayer chapel coordinator Patsy Rowe said, “Sometimes I open those journals and read the entries — miracle after miracle, spiritual healings, relational healings, jobs.”

Rowe added that she has also seen many endeavors in the parish come to fruition as a result of parishioners’ prayers in the adoration chapel.

Rowe said the big miracle happened in March 2004, when parishioners from St. Edward and Sacred Heart Church in Texarkana, Texas, filled time slots for prayer to be offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rowe had long dreamed of perpetual adoration at St. Edward. In 2002 she visited St. Monica Church in Dallas, and she recalled, “A lady gave a talk after Mass about perpetual eucharistic adoration. I was mesmerized by her words and the power of this beautiful devotion. I couldn’t get it off my mind. The Holy Spirit was at work.”

When Rowe returned to Texarkana, she mentioned her longing for a perpetual adoration chapel to the people in her prayer group in Texarkana and they started praying about it. She said the group became the core support of the ministry. Many problems had to be overcome, including where to put the chapel.

“The chapel used to be a clothes closet,” Rowe said. “Many parishioners donated money and time to convert it into the chapel. We faced many setbacks and trials (before the chapel became a reality), but we continued to call on Our Blessed Mother’s intercession and the protection of St. Michael.”

Joint effort yields "heaven on Earth"

Answers to their prayers began to happen. Rowe learned of Mary Hedrick from Sacred Heart, who also wanted to get adoration started. 

The chapel is the result of both churches’ efforts. Words of guidance came from Taffy Council of Benton, who had helped set up adoration chapels around the diocese and who coordinated the ministry in her own church. Rowe said, “Another answered prayer was Victoria Shelton (of St. Edward) whom we didn’t even realize we needed, but God knew. She was bilingual and became the bridge with the Hispanic community.”

At present about as many men as women participate in prayer at the chapel. Adorers are almost evenly split between Anglos and Hispanics from St. Edward and Sacred Heart.

Rowe said that Jesus Tovar of the Hispanic community has prayed from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. one morning a week for nine years and has seen many answers to prayer. Jewel LeGrand of St. Edward, another adorer since the chapel opened, noted that the whole parish benefits from prayers offered in the adoration chapel.

And Rowe testified, “Personally for me, my time spent in adoration before the King of Kings has been my piece of heaven on Earth — a place of peace and reflection. My adoration time has always been one of the early morning times. Many times when my alarm goes off, I think, time to wake up already! Then I realize where I am going and who I am going to see, and I realize the privilege given to me.”

Mike Cigainero of St. Edward shares Rowe’s sentiments.

“I love the hour when I’m there,” he said. “The time is peaceful and a real escape from the world.”

When she can, Cigainero’s wife Jackie joins him in prayer at the chapel. Among other prayers, they pray for seminarians — including their son Robert — and for future seminarians. 

“Currently, we do not have any other young men from Texarkana in the seminary,” Mike said. “However, the call may well be there for future priests, yet unborn.”

Steve Unger, another St. Edward adorer, became Catholic in the 1980s. As he accompanied his family to church, he began to like it.

“I liked the feeling that I got there,” he said. “Jesus, working through the Holy Spirit, was working on me. I began to investigate Church history and I now have a theology degree. That conversion process that began in the 1980s is not complete but is well on its way. The adoration chapel gives me the same quiet and comfort I began to notice at church. I just love it. I can say a rosary, meditate or just sit and adore. I would never have thought when Ellen and I got married that I would love sitting in adoration.”

Many parishioners around the diocese have the opportunity to pray in Jesus’  presence at an adoration chapel.

Perpetual adoration popular, spreading

Eleven other parishes in the Diocese of Little Rock have a chapel. For example, on Dec. 12, 2012, Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Little Rock, celebrated its 19th year of perpetual Eucharistic adoration. Paula Parker, church secretary, said, “This date, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, also marks the anniversary of the very first perpetual adoration chapel in Arkansas since Vatican II — an historic claim for our parish. In these 19 years, many adorers have come to our beautiful chapel to experience our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament. Some of our adorers today were part of the original group who began the adoration program here 19 years ago.”

Parker said most adorers are members of the parish, but some come from other parishes. Travelers who come to Little Rock also drop by the chapel — particularly those who have family members in area hospitals surrounding the parish.

“Eucharistic adoration is continuously supported and promoted in our parish via pastoral encouragement, newsletter and weekly bulletins and information in our welcome packets given to first-time visitors at Mass,” she added. 

“Our parish is truly blessed to have the gift of Eucharistic adoration, and we have witnessed many blessings because of it. We pray that more people will heed our Lord’s call to spend time with him.”

She continued, “Many adorers have given testimony how their time spent in the chapel has ‘changed their lives,’ ‘brought about peace in their homes,’ ‘healed many hurts,’ ‘contributed to personal conversions,’ and that they looked forward to their hour each week for some peaceful silence to talk to and listen to our Lord. Some adorers are here daily and ‘feel like something is missing’ if they’re not able to visit our Lord in the chapel. Many tears, both of joy and sorrow, have been shed in the chapel, and many knees have bent in adoration of our Lord.”

Another coordinator of perpetual adoration at her church is Shelly Dvorak, secretary of St. John the Baptist Church in Hot Springs. Parishioners of St. Mary of the Springs Church in Hot Springs also participate.

She said adoration began there in 2000.

“There are about 160 people who are signed up for an hour or two, and then there are people who come and go as they want to pray. We are 24/7, and have 23 hours open out of the 168 hours, and those hours are mostly midnight to 5 a.m.”

Dvorak observed that the adoration program has resulted in “a deeper love of the Eucharist among our parishioners.”

Rowe likes to quote thoughts from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta regarding adoration: 

“The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on Earth,” she said. “Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in heaven, and will  help bring about everlasting peace on earth.”

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