By MINA AMSO
Hundreds of people who make time to adore the Eucharist in Canterbury celebrated a significant milestone at the end of June, as their diocese marked 10 years of perpetual adoration at the chapel of St Gregory’s church in Christchurch.
Long-time adorer and Rangiora resident Marina Krijigsman said that this milestone is a “wonderful testament” to the courage of those who pioneered this ministry, and those who carried it through.
“I just think it’s amazing the commitment to come and adore 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we’ve done this for 10 years, and there are so many blessings and so many stories about the blessings that have been received. I think it’s going to be wonderful to celebrate that.”
The mother-of-four travels from Rangiora, a 26 km trip one way, each time she has a slot to fill. She adores at the chapel on a Sunday afternoon, and says that spending hundreds of hours in silence has been a game-changer for her.
“It’s been quite a transformation in my spiritual life. I am a mum of four. When I started, my two elders were in senior year at high school. My daughter in her last year of high school had some medical issues, and it was my way of being able to deal with all these things, [which] was to go and spend an hour with the Lord and give it all to him.
“It hasn’t been an easy journey with it, but she’s now out working and things like that, and is able to handle all aspects of her health issues for herself, and so I’ve seen that healing and that constant prayer [in the chapel].”
Mrs Krijigsman describes herself now as “at peace”, who wouldn’t get upset at the slightest thing. Her way of looking at adoration changed over the years.
“You’d have your whole set of prayers, your spiritual reading, and you have a whole lot of stuff to fill that hour, but now I go and I just sit, and I usually use the kneelers and have my spot, same spot, I just sit and be with the Lord.”
She now does five hours a week in total regularly, saying that those stops in her week make way for a “peaceful” soul.
“It’s quite lovely that you go and you spend time with the Lord, and you carry these people with you.”
The project started with diocese evangelisation coordinator Matthew O’Connell giving a business case to the late Bishop Barry Jones, asking him to consider an adoration chapel in Christchurch.
Mr O’Connell had a passion to see Jesus adored, and his love and healing experienced by many 24/7. A vision he held on to for years, finally coming to fruition on June 30, 2013 at 6pm, following a Mass led by Bishop Jones.
“[Since then, there have been] many, many graces, many, many fruits, many, many generous adorers”, Mr O’Connell said.
June 23, 2013, the eve of the feast of St John the Baptist, the patron saint of the diocese, was the original start date, but delays in getting more people to sign up meant that the chapel was opened a week late, with more than 400 people ready to cover every hour of the day.
“The first weeks were nerve-wracking but great, lots of people turned up, and the only issue we had was changing where people parked at night because of waking people up! But apart from that, all good”, Mr O’Connell said.
The chapel operates 24/7, with a current adoring roll of some 200 people, where at least one or two individuals are present at all times to keep watch. Mr O’Connell said that finding adorers who would stay overnight was manageable pre-Covid-19, but it’s been more difficult over the last three years.
“The adorer base is elderly, although there’s a lot of young people coming now, [but] it’s the middle of the night, [a slot that’s the toughest to find people for] so we’re struggling.”
But he’s not worried at all, saying that “the Lord is never outdone in his generosity”.
“The Lord seems to provide, and I think the Lord will continue to provide. He wants adoration. He wants perpetual adoration. He wants people to come before him, and he wants that to happen. He will provide the adorers.”
Mr O’Connell said that there’s a man he knows who drives for 110km once every three weeks to adore during the night, a challenge he’s putting out there to people, to sacrifice a night a week or a night a month to spend time with the Lord.
“[It is] sacrifice, getting up from your warm bed, it’s a commitment.”
He said that having people adore during the night allows others to come at any time, a personal and collective benefit.
“Special graces are given to people at night time,” he said. “We’ve had people come in crisis; they know the chapel is open 24/7.”
Every Monday, at 10am, you can expect to find Bruce Mayhew at the adoration chapel. He is one of 83 people still doing an hour each week since the beginning. In fact, he is one of 59 people doing the same hour each week, since the chapel opened.
The 72-year-old calls it the “power hour”, the perfect way to “start your week on a good note” and good time to have a good conversation with God about the week past, the week present and beyond.
“For me it’s like a chat session, it’s just talking to him and a bit of humour, just talking and getting a bit of quiet time, but mainly just chatting away, and listening and hearing as well in terms of what comes back out of the side as well, it’s amazing,” Mr Mayhew said.
“I get a lot of strength, a lot of satisfaction, and a lot of warm feelings from it.”
It was an opportunity that came at the right place, in the right time, and at the right moment.
“I was going through some challenges as well, and it was a time for me to use this opportunity to get closer with my maker and get a bit more guidance, so it was good.
“Sometimes when you’re there, you get answers to your questions,” he added.
The father of three adult children and five grandchildren said that young people don’t seem to have the same focus nor attention to religion or God these days.
“It’s the same with my children, they’re good Christian people, but they don’t physically go to church.”
He said society has become so busy and people are too distracted to sit still. That’s the view of Mrs Krijigsman, who’s inviting young people to “come and see”.
“For all of us, we need that time to just be, and just stop doing and give our minds, our bodies and our souls, just to sit with the Lord. I think we’ve become so busy now that we don’t do that anymore, just coming and being.
“And interestingly, God will provide everything else you need so that you can come and be with him. All you have got to do is commit.
Mrs Krijigsman is thankful for all the people who’ve given up their time, energy and resources to be present at the chapel when others couldn’t.
“I know they get benefits from it, but the generosity of people to come and make sure that we’ve got this adoration continuing [is amazing], so that the blessings can be felt right across the diocese and hopefully across New Zealand.”
A celebratory Mass at St Gregory’s Church and a gala dinner was scheduled for adorers towards the end of June.