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No break in prayer for ten years

June 09, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- For the past 10 years -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- there has been continuous prayer in the Perpetual Adoration Chapel on the campus of St. Maria Goretti High School.

Since the day the chapel opened its door for perpetual prayer on June 26, 1999, there has never been a gap, according to Mary Graves, who with her husband, Willard, has been involved almost from the start.

Many people visit the chapel each day, some using key cards to access the former convent building during non-office hours.

Scheduled and nonscheduled visitors sign in as they mark their time in the chapel.

"There are a lot of chapels around, but few that are open around the clock," Mary Graves said.

On Saturday, there will be a special Mass at St. Ann Roman Catholic Church commemorating the chapel's 10-year anniversary. When the Mass is over, those assembled will walk down the hill to the Goretti campus carrying a gift for the chapel.

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"A new monstrance will be carried to the chapel during the procession," Mary Graves said.

The sacred vessel, which will hold the Eucharistic wafers in the chapel, has been in storage for 30 years at St. Mary's Catholic Church.

For the past 10 years, Mary Graves said, the chapel has been using a loaned monstrance from St. Ann's.

A dinner will follow the ceremony in the newly renovated chapel.

People sign up for specific times to be responsible for keeping the prayers going nonstop.

The Graveses, for instance, are committed to every Wednesday between 5 and 6 p.m. Hundreds of others are likewise responsible for specific times or getting someone to fill in if they can't.

"Some of our faithful have passed away or moved, and we try to replace them," Mary Graves said.

She stressed that participants need not be Catholic to be involved, just devoted to prayer.

While the chapel was started by members of St. Ann's, St. Mary's, St. Joseph's and St. Augustine's Catholic churches, many other denominations became involved and are welcome.

"We get feedback about life changes," she said.

In one instance, a woman who was writing poetry to Jesus during her visit to the chapel in 2003 took a picture of the vessel that holds the Eucharist and when her film was developed, rays of light were emanating from it.

Countless flash pictures have been taken before and after the 2003 photo, and nothing even close to that image has shown up again. That picture now graces a postcard gift for all who visit the chapel.

Mary Graves said that woman still participates in the perpetual prayer.

Many of the volunteers are like the Graveses, retirees who want to contribute to their community and congregations now that they have more time to give.

For more information, call 301-824-5101 or 301-582-1112.

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