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Perpetual prayer worship organized

June 24, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

A group of local people gathering tonight at the St. Maria Goretti chapel will put out a permanent welcome mat for God.

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"There will be at least one person praying in this chapel at all times ... 24 hours a day ... every day ... forever," said Michael Winslow, one of the organizers of a form or worship known as Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration.

Winslow said convents and monasteries have been sites of perpetual prayer for many years.

"And since 1981, there has been perpetual prayer at St. Peter's Basilica, established by Pope John Paul II," Winslow said.

Following a kickoff by members of four Catholic congregations in Washington County Friday, the chapel will be the scene of continuous prayers.

The local core group has been holding all-night prayer adorations at St. Ann's Chapel every Friday for the past three or four years, Winslow said.

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The group includes more than 600 Roman Catholic parishioners from Washington County who signed up in the spring when the plan was first introduced.

"I signed up because it will be a quiet, calming time for me to be with my Lord," said Kateri Frazier, a secretary and member at St. Ann's.

Frazier said the idea is to increase spiritual awareness and take time to get in touch with God on a regular basis.

"We often don't talk with God unless we are in dire straits," Frazier said.

Core members are drawn from four churches - St. Ann's, St. Mary's and St. Joseph's in Hagerstown, and St. Augustine's in Williamsport, but no one will be turned away.

"All ages, all denominations will be welcome to come and pray," said Goretti Principal Anthony Durso.

The building housing the chapel, which served as a convent until 1996, is just north of the main school campus along Oak Hill Avenue.

Three years ago, the building was converted into a library and media learning center. But the first-floor chapel was left unused, mainly because of its advanced state of disrepair, Durso said.

When there was talk of doing away with the chapel altogether, Durso rejected the idea. "I always want to have the sacraments there," he said.

The remodeled chapel, which Durso describes as intimate, has been equipped with restrooms, telephones and a full security system with a card access for off hours, Durso said.

"The media center and library are still there so there will be students in and out of the building during school hours," Durso said.

He said that except for normal noises of walking, moving chairs and quiet conversations, the distractions for those praying should be minimal.

"This just became an idea waiting to happen," Durso said. "The school is honored to be able to do this."

After viewing a motivational film this evening at St. Ann's Church, participants will walk down the hill to Goretti and the chapel to begin the prayers.

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