Blessed Sacrament Church's new adoration chapel features an electronic system of exposition and reposition as well as the ancient iconograophy of a pelican giving her life for her offspring. Photograph by Jessica L. Marsala

Savannah parish opens new adoration chapel

Originally Appeared in : 9814-7/5/18

Blessed Sacrament Church is the latest parish in the diocese to provide a dedicated space for Catholics to spend time in prayer before Jesus, letting his presence transform their bodies and souls.


“I say to my students at Blessed Sacrament School, ‘You can’t hang around with Jesus very long without becoming like him,’” Father Brett Brannen, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church (BSC), said of one of the benefits of going to adoration. “St. John Paul said that the only success recognized by God is Christ-likeness, and that’s what happens when you sit before the exposed Eucharistic Lord.” 


While many parishes and missions in the Diocese of Savannah offer adoration on a regular or semi-regular basis, few parishes currently offer perpetual adoration – available to parishioners 24 hours each and every day. Among those that do: St. James the Less Church in Savannah, St. Mary on the Hill Church in Augusta and St. Joseph Church in Macon.


Father Brannen says that he envisions BSC’s Eucharistic Adoration Chapel will one day be one of them.


“We obviously want to have perpetual adoration here, and we built our chapel with our new construction of our new physical plant as part of it,” Father Brannen said, referencing the parish and school’s Seeds of Change renovation campaign, the first phase of which is now complete. “We knew it would take a while to reach perpetual, which we’re still trying to do.” 


Part of the difficulty in establishing perpetual adoration is due to the busyness of parishioners and their inability to commit to a regularly scheduled time — especially hard to fill time slots are off-peak hours of the day. 


Church regulations state that the Eucharist cannot be exposed without an adorer present – even in the wee hours of the morning. Furthermore, regulations also state that, except in special circumstances, only a priest or deacon may repose the Eucharist into its tabernacle when no one is present to adore.


Father Brannen implemented an electronic system of exposition and reposition in BSC’s adoration chapel in order to enable more people to participate: The flip of a switch on the wall of the chapel prompts the monstrance to ascend from the altar where it is permanently housed. When the switch is flipped again, the monstrance descends back into the altar. 


“No one has to touch the monstrance or the Eucharist, and it’s almost like a little, mini resurrection,” Father Brannen said. “So people feel a lot more comfortable with that. It’s done very, very reverently. It’s also greater security (for both the Eucharist and the adorer).” 


Even if adorers can’t stay more than 10 minutes, have a hard time slowing their racing minds or even fall asleep, Father Brannen encourages them to not be afraid to spend some time in the “classroom of silence,” as described by Catholic author Matthew Kelly.


In this “classroom,” Father Brannen suggests, there aren’t any requirements and no method of learning is better than any other. 


Through scripture and theological study, the many different forms of prayer and genuine conversation with their teacher, students, he says can grow closer to God — in Latin the phrase “ad oratio” suggests the intimacy of a kiss — and learn how to be more forgiving, more kind and to “see things the way God sees them.” 


“I have always said that I have spiritual cancer (as a sinner), and I need daily radiation treatments for one hour for that spiritual cancer,” Father Brannen said, acknowledging that just as with physical cancer, the effects of treatment may not be immediately noticeable, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. “So every day I sit for one hour before the Blessed Sacrament and I believe — and I know — that the rays of his grace and his love are going through my soul.”


Father Brannen continued, “I always find that when I start my day with that holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, my day goes well. When I don’t or when I shortened it for some reason, I have problems, and so people come because they need that quiet time with Jesus. They just need it in their lives.” 

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