Carmelo Varo helped launch perpetual adoration at St. Alice Parish by keeping a nearly 12-hour night adoration shift for 40 days this fall. (Sarah Wolf/Catholic Sentinel)
Carmelo Varo helped launch perpetual adoration at St. Alice Parish by keeping a nearly 12-hour night adoration shift for 40 days this fall. (Sarah Wolf/Catholic Sentinel)
SPRINGFIELD — Carmelo Varo sits in the parish office, a large five-mystery rosary hanging around his neck. Varo helped kick off a call for perpetual adoration at St. Alice Parish here, offering to man every night shift from 9 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. for 40 nights.

“Everything is God’s grace,” said Varo.

Varo comes from a long line of adorers — his parents and grandparents kept Holy Hours.

“The best way to fight evil is through adoration,” said Varo, who started keeping nighttime Holy Hours in 2007. Varo calls the 40-night adoration “overtime.”

“For God’s glory, I’m putting in overtime now,” he said.

After hearing a talk by Msgr. Gerard O’Connor on placing the Eucharist at the center of parish life, Father Mark Bentz, administrator at St. Alice, was inspired. He brought the monsignor to his parish of St. Alice in hope that the community would be inspired, too.

“Without being prompted, the response to that was ‘This is what we need to do,’” said Father Bentz.

“The Eucharist is the source and center of our lives, so what does that mean practically speaking? Are we actually putting the Eucharist at the center?”

The parish moved adoration out of their adoration chapel and into the church.

“It’s been a call to arms to say let’s really put Jesus first not just in words but in actual fact,” the priest said.

So the parish began adoration from Mondays at 9 a.m. until Tuesdays at 6 p.m., with the eventual aim of having adoration running from Sunday until Wednesday morning.

The parish staff have heard stories of people never having tried adoration who’ve embraced it. The youth program at the school has grown rapidly from seven teens in confirmation last year to 60 teens in confirmation this year.

“I don’t know what that is,” said Father Bentz, attributing the increase to adoration. “There’s no explanation for that. It’s just happening. So God’s tilling the soil and things are happening.”

The priest has added that he wants the church to be open as much as possible so people in need can come in to the church for God’s healing. The eventual goal is for the church to be open during the day and the adoration chapel to be open at night.

“There is technology to protect the people and the tabernacle,” added Peg Ries, business manager at the parish. “It can be done if you want to do it badly enough.”

Roger and Marie Grinstead help keep a Holy Hour at the church. The Grinsteads have kept a Holy Hour for years.

“It’s quiet time with Jesus,” said Roger.

“It’s quiet time,” agreed Marie. “No distractions. It’s just being very close to him.”

“It’s just a good way to finish off the day or start the day, depending on when you do it,” said Roger.

“It helps you to deal with life better — just knowing he’s always with us,” said Marie. “When you see what’s going on in the world, it’s just so crazy.”

The only way I can get through every day is knowing that God is there — always, always, always — even if no one else is there, he’s there. Nobody can take that away from me. It makes life bearable.”