Monday, September 12, 2011

Blessed Sacrament Parish Ministries Fair

Parishioners attend Parish Ministries Fair (9/11/11)
        Parishioners filled Quinn Hall at Blessed Sacrament on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011 for the annual Parish Ministries Fair. 
The variety of ministries seemed virtually endless.  While not all parish ministries were represented, the more than 20 present included the Adoration Society, Saint Fiacre Garden Guild, Knights of Columbus, Saint Padre Pio Prayer Group, Respect Life Ministry, Legion of Mary, Eucharistic Ministry, Lectoring, Altar Servers, Ushering, ALIVE!, Carpenter’s Shelter, Choirs (Folk and Adult), Cantors, Handbell Choir, Religious Education (CCD), Funeral Ministry, the Courtyard Garden Project, the Eucharistic Family Rosary Crusade and more.
            The parish’s Adoration Society is seeking new members who are willing to commit to one hour each month in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during Friday Eucharistic Adoration in the daily chapel between 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.  During Lent and Advent adoration concludes around 6:30 p.m. with Benediction since there is a 7:00 p.m. parish Mass.  A Children’s Holy Hour is held every Friday 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.  Parishioners can choose any Friday of the month and their preferred time. 
Parishioner Kevin Heanue said outreach at Carpenter’s Shelter, 930 North Henry St., Alexandria, is something the Blessed Sacrament community has been doing for over 25 years.  Even earlier Blessed Sacrament ran a homeless shelter in the basement of the basement of the old church building.  Carpenter’s Shelter provides many programs in an effort to end homelessness. On eighteen Monday evenings a year from 5:30 p.m.-7:15 p.m. dinner is prepared for shelter residents by Blessed Sacrament parishioners.  Dinner volunteers should contact Hap Whitestone, 703-820-7263 for more information.  Volunteers are also needed for tutoring and working at the shelter’s front desk. 
ALIVE! (ALexandrians InVolved Ecumenically) is another service to the poor with great volunteer opportunities.  ALIVE, a consortium of 33 Alexandria congregations, is “the largest private safety net for those in need in the City of Alexandria.” Parishioners can contact Vivian Webb ( for information on assisting with the food pantry, home furnishing program, child development center or the transition shelter. 
            Debbie Hand, Head Usher at Blessed Sacrament, said ushers are needed at Masses throughout the year.  The time obligation is “just the time you come to Mass,” she said.  Duties include greeting parishioners, handing out Mass programs, taking up the collection and distributing bulletins as people leave Mass.  “It is a great way for young people to do service hours for Confirmation,” said Hand.  Altar servers are also needed and boys and girls can find out more by attending one of two upcoming mandatory training sessions Sat., Sept. 17 and Sat. Sept. 24. 
            Music ministry is also welcoming new members said Sharon Dooley, who has been a member of the parish’s 9:00 a.m. Mass folk group for over 15 years. “We take all comers!” she said, noting that God gave everyone a voice and if you want to sing, remember God “gave you that voice – give it back to him!”  Music ministry also includes cantoring, adult choir or handbell choir.
            The parish’s Knights of Columbus Council No. 11947 is welcoming men interested in joining the charitable and fraternal organization of Catholic laymen. Meetings are held in the Parish Center on the first Monday of every month, except holidays. Members are asked to attend three meetings and three events each year.  On Monday, Oct. 3 at 7:35 p.m. in the Parish Center, the Knights will hold their First Degree Initiation Ceremony.  Contact for more information.
            Blessed Sacrament Parish also hosts Northern Virginia’s Saint Padre Pio Prayer Group, which meets on the fourth Sunday of every month at 3:00 p.m. in the daily chapel. 
The parish’s Saint Fiacre Garden Guild, named after a 7th-century Irish-born saint who lived in France and is the patron of gardeners, meets on the first and third Saturdays of each month in Quinn Hall after the 8:30 a.m. Mass.  The guild and does gardening around the parish, learns about flowers and gardening and visits local gardens. 
            A new parish Courtyard Garden Project is in the fundraising stage with the goal of transforming the yard in the center of the parish complex into a lovely new garden space with landscaping, a fountain and rosary walk.  Parishioners can purchase engraved bricks for $100 each as memorials to honor the living, the deceased or those who have served or are serving in the military.  For more information, e-mail  The deadline for order submission is November 10, 2011.
            The parish community thrives with lay involvement, people living out their baptismal call to share the message and mission of the Gospel in countless ways inside and outside the parish. 
            Information about parish ministries is available in the weekly bulletin, posted on the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church website.
            Are you ready to try something new? Where is God calling you?

Jennifer E. Reed is a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An Invitation to Adoration….

By Father Anthony J. Killian

Adoration at the main altar, St. Peter's Basilica.  P
At all Catholic parishes, but especially ours which is named Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist is to be the center of parish life. Everything we do as the Church, as “the assembly which is called out” by God, must have as its source the Eucharist – which is Christ present with his people. Of course, we Catholics act on our faith in Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist when we go to Mass each Sunday.
Yet Jesus remains, imprisoned we could say, in the tabernacle of the church. The lighted lamp is the sign of Christ’s abiding presence in the tabernacle. He is there above all so that the Blessed Sacrament can be brought to the sick. Another reason why the Sacrament is reserved is for the adoration of the faithful. Adoration is an important aspect of our spiritual life.

Why Adoration?

To adore is to gaze lovingly.  Parents do so with their children.  Spouses do so with each other.  Blessed John Paul II, in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, said “the gaze of the Church is constantly turned to her Lord, present in the Sacrament of the Altar, in which she discovers the full manifestation of his boundless love.”(Ecclesia de Eucharistia, No. 1.)  We gaze at the Lord in order to better understand what love truly is because God is Love and therefore the source of our love.  Pondering the words of Blessed John Paul it becomes clear that adoration of the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament is not only a personal act, but an ecclesial one.  The members of the Mystical Body, as it were, unite mystically with their Head who in turn fills them with spiritual blessings.

We should have a natural desire to visit the Lord often in the Blessed Sacrament.  And our motivation is love.  Our love is nothing other than a desire for a deeper communion with God in Christ.  In his presence, we should thank him for the blessings God has given to us: our family, our friends, our talents, and above all our Catholic faith. From our hearts, we should speak honestly to the Lord about our needs, and ask him to help us to grow to be better disciples. Perhaps there is a particular fault or sin that one wants to root out of his life; or someone may be dealing with a particularly challenging situation, a particularly difficult person, or a decision that needs to be made. All of these can be topics of conversation with the Lord. We speak; but we also need to be quiet and listen to the Lord as he prompts us from within the quiet of our hearts. This is nothing other than friendship, real friendship, with the Lord!

The time spent in adoration allows God to shape us more and more into the image of his Son.  The graces Christ gives us make us into better lovers both of God and our brothers and sisters. Our devotion to the Holy Mass increases. 

Adoration and the Saints

Many saints have been devoted to adoring the Lord in the Eucharist.  One thinks especially of St. John Neumann who was the first to organize the Forty Hours devotion throughout a diocese.  St. Katherine Drexel founded a religious community of sisters named for the Blessed Sacrament.  St. Thomas Aquinas wrote the liturgy for Corpus Christi as well as the great Eucharistic hymns Pange Lingua and Adoro te Devote. An important influence for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s conversion to Catholicism was the Eucharistic devotion of Catholics in her day.

Make an Appointment with Christ

Blessed Sacrament Church is open Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Thus, there is plenty of opportunity for anyone to visit the Blessed Sacrament.  There is Exposition every Friday after the 8:30 a.m. Mass with Benediction times varying according to the liturgical season.  We also have Exposition on the first Sunday of each month after the 2:00 p.m. Mass with Benediction beginning at 3:50 p.m.
Making adoration of the Blessed Sacrament a regular part of our devotional life can change our lives! Let us not pass up the opportunity to strengthen our friendship with the Lord and with one another by making visits to Christ in the tabernacle. What a joy to see spouses, parents and children, and laity praying in the Blessed Sacrament chapel! It is before the tabernacle or the monstrance that we find the answers to the challenges and or difficulties of life as well as the peace for which our hearts long. So, say yes to this invitation and let us become even more strongly and actively a Eucharistic parish – the parish of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The author, Fr. Anthony Killian, is a Parochial Vicar at Blessed Sacrament Parish