October 1, 2023 | Local News
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

St. Mary of the Woods parishioner Tommy Higdon prays during his hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament on Aug. 12, 2023. COURTESY OF MEL HOWARD

St. Mary of the Woods Parish’s perpetual adoration: A privileged and graced moment


“Catholics need to recover a sense of awe and adoration before the Eucharist knowing that it is the real and loving presence of the Lord.”- Pope Francis, speaking to organizers of the National Eucharistic Revival in the United States on June 19, 2023.

The 2013 St. Mary of the Woods Parish long-range pastoral plan invited parishioners to deepen a sense of faith and God’s blessings with a grateful spirit. The formation of a perpetual adoration ministry before the Blessed Sacrament was found to be a way to involve more parishioners in prayer, worship and sacraments.

St. Mary’s current pastor, Fr. Brian Roby, commented, “I’m convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that perpetual adoration is the reason why our parish and schools have enjoyed prosperity since 2013, i.e., we’ve grown by 250 families since the beginning of perpetual adoration; growth in our schools that has allowed us to enjoy being at full capacity; some of the highest percentages of Mass attendance in the diocese; and the continued growth and practice of stewardship.”

“Our people,” continued Fr. Roby, “are generous, and we know the importance of being centered on the Source and Summit of our lives as Christians. Everything we do, as Church, must ultimately flow from our worship and prayer. When such is reality, we bear great fruit!”

The leadership team for St. Mary of the Woods Parish’s perpetual adoration stand in front of the statue of Our Lady. (Left to right) Hope Brey, Sharon Boarman, Majella Mills, Dottie Pogue, and Sandy Merritt. COURTESY OF MEL HOWARD

Sept. 29, 2023 is the 10th anniversary of perpetual adoration before the Blessed Sacrament at St. Mary of the Woods. The ministry started on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013 as Darlene Crabtree, Jerry and Berdelle Howard, and Bill and Katie Christian adored the Blessed Sacrament during the first three hours.

Thereafter until the present time, St. Mary of the Woods adorers have faithfully signed their names in the record books at the church, and prayed their hour before the Blessed Sacrament.

“We’re so blessed to have Jesus here in this church every day,” said Kathy Stiff.

Keeping the perpetual adoration ministry active in the parish church is one of the services of Fr. Roby and volunteer Majella Mills, the overall coordinator. Mills shares the filling of the adoration hours with parish volunteers Hope Brey, Sandy Merritt, Sharon Boarman, and Dottie Pogue.

Of the people who started adoration in 2013, parish records show 159 still actively praying their hour each week before the Blessed Sacrament, said Mills. A total of 220 parishioners (82 men and 138 women) are currently praying in adoration every week. The team has also enlisted 42 substitute adorers who step up to pray an hour when the regular adorer can’t be in church at adoration.

As of Jan. 1, 2023, St. Mary parishioners have prayed before the Blessed Sacrament for a total of 91,245 hours. About 10% of the parish step up and sign their name in the register book of adorers weekly.

Mills commented on this record: “Signing the adorers’ book is a privilege and a graced moment.”

“We give all the praise and glory to God for this beautiful ministry,” she said. “The students of St. Mary of the Woods Elementary and Trinity High School take time for adoration at least quarterly – with some classes praying in adoration weekly. We thank Jesus for all the blessings he has bestowed on our parish and our schools.”

Hugh and Mary Johnson, St. Mary of the Woods parishioners, pray during their Aug. 12, 2023 hour of the parish perpetual adoration ministry. COURTESY OF MEL HOWARD

Mel Howard is the founding editor of The Western Kentucky Catholic and retired in 2015. He resides in Whitesville and belongs to St. Mary of the Woods Parish. 

Originally printed in the October 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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