“Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart … go without fear to receive the Jesus of peace and love.” St. Therese the Little Flower wants us to know deeply, as she did, that Jesus loves each and every one of us, and that He will be waiting for us at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even until the end of time. It is the mission of the ASCC’s Eucharistic Adoration Campaign (EAC) to spread the message that St. Therese so beautifully articulated in order that students at Catholic colleges might know the love of Christ and then in turn go out and share it.
In order to accomplish its mission, the EAC provides advice and resources to campus ministers and students who are looking to start or promote a Eucharistic Adoration program at their college. We have brochures that are targeted to both students and campus ministers and that contain answers to questions like “What is Eucharistic Adoration?” and “Isn’t Eucharistic Adoration old-fashioned?” ASCC also provides guidelines for how to start a Eucharistic Adoration program at your school. The ASCC EAC website has several useful links as well, including Pope John Paul II’s recent encyclical about the Eucharist, Ecclesia de Eucharistia (The Church of the Eucharist) and many quotations from various saints, theologians, and other holy people. The ASCC also has many student contacts at Catholic colleges around the country. We provide a listserve so that those students can contact each other when they need advice, suggestions, or support.
All of the resources that the ASCC EAC provides are intended ultimately to further the love of God here on earth. The effect of our resources, Eucharistic Adoration, is the fire that lights the hearts of the faithful. Mother Teresa said, “We cannot separate our lives from the Eucharist; the moment we do, something breaks. People ask, ‘Where do the sisters get the joy and energy to do what they are doing?’” Indeed, such joy and energy can only come from the Eucharist, which, according to St. Peter Julian Eymard, “[i]n one day…will make you produce more for the glory of God than a whole lifetime without it.”
Cardinal Newman Society Press Release:
College Students on Their Knees: Student Association Launches
Eucharistic Adoration Campaign
By Patrick J. Reilly, President, Cardinal Newman Society
“Even before I became Catholic, I felt a curiously strong pull to Eucharistic adoration,” says Jereme Hudson, a senior at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California.
Although the college is well-known for its thoroughly Catholic education – reflected both in its Great Books curriculum steeped in Catholic theology and its wholesome campus life – Jereme came to the college a Southern Baptist. When curfew was dropped to allow students to participate in all-night adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Jereme was intrigued. So he tagged along with a friend.
“I felt uncomfortable at first, but my anxieties soon abated and the peace and silence which permeated that chapel filled me with awe,” Jereme recalls. “I still wasn’t sure whether I truly believed that such a thing could be possible, but I looked around at the people who looked so lovingly at the Sacrament and couldn’t convince myself that they were merely staring at a piece of bread. I studied them looking for any trace whatsoever of falsity or simple-mindedness. I found none.
“When at last my gaze fell on the Blessed Sacrament itself I saw bread, yes, but I was filled with the desire to truly see Christ and to know Him in the flesh. I felt drawn to the monstrance, to the altar, to the tabernacle, and I found it harder to convince myself that this wasn’t Christ than it was to simply see that this was Christ.”
Three years later, Jereme is a Roman Catholic convert and is helping lead a national student association’s efforts to promote Eucharistic adoration at America’s 230 Catholic colleges and universities.
The Eucharistic Adoration Campaign is an effort of the Association of Students at Catholic Colleges (ASCC), a loose fraternity of Catholic student leaders who are struggling to build Christian campus life on America’s Catholic campuses. Many of these campuses lack significant commitment to Christian values, as contemporary student life at many Catholic colleges too often mirrors the rampant sexual activity, high levels of alcohol abuse, and decline in religious practice common among students at secular colleges.
That is why ASCC’s Eucharistic Adoration Campaign is markedly different from other efforts to encourage young Catholics to embrace the Church – and why the stakes are so high for the Campaign to succeed.
“Eucharistic adoration helps students rediscover the center of their faith, which is so desperately needed in an age when even their theology professors may dissent from Church teaching,” says Thomas Harmon, ASCC president and a senior at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. “But we’re aiming for something additional to personal renewal. We expect Eucharistic adoration at Catholic colleges to have a campus-wide impact, helping spur along the renewal of Catholic higher education as the Holy Father has envisioned.”
In Ex corde Ecclesiae, the 1990 apostolic constitution in which Pope John Paul II established firm guidelines for Catholic colleges, he emphasizes the importance of helping students “integrate religious and moral principles with their academic study and non-academic activities, thus integrating faith with life.” This includes “the celebration of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist as the most perfect act of community worship.”
The Holy Father notes that “a university community concerned with promoting the institution’s Catholic character” will be keenly aware of how its pastoral ministry influences “all university activities”.
There is ample evidence of this at Catholic colleges that encourage students and employees to kneel before the Eucharist. The campus minister of a Catholic college in the Midwest says that in the three years since students helped him launch a weekly evening of adoration, “my ministry to college students has met with unexpected success” and students have even reported mystical experiences in their prayer life. Participation in adoration, Sunday and daily Mass, and retreats has steadily grown, and several non-Catholic students have converted. Employees responsible for student life have come to “share a common vision of what student life on a Catholic college campus ought to be,” and even changes on the academic side are heartening.
“After Mass and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I consider Eucharistic adoration to be the most important component of our program,” the campus minister says.
Christina Dehan, a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and coordinator of the university’s twice-weekly adoration, agrees.
“I know from stories that upperclassmen have relayed to me that the Catholic identity at Notre Dame has been undoubtedly strengthened since Eucharistic adoration was implemented,” Dehan says. “I know it has changed the lives of many students here, and the very presence of Christ on campus can be felt on the days when He is exposed in the Blessed Sacrament.”
Notre Dame offers adoration every Monday and Tuesday from noon until 10 p.m. Dehan says about 140 students, faculty and other employees have regular time slots, although many others participate when they can.
Of course, numbers aren’t everything. Even a small number of students and employees who participate in Eucharistic adoration can be filled with the Holy Spirit and become important leaders on campus. Those who are already active in campus life and struggle with burnout find peace and motivation in Christ.
“As a ridiculously busy college student, there is nothing I desire more than quiet time – time away from all of my obligations, time to reflect and re-focus and rejuvenate,” says Jennie Bradley, a junior at Notre Dame. “Adoration allows me to do all of these things, and also to bring before God in an intimate setting the petitions that are particularly on my heart that week.
“I am keenly aware that I live every day by God’s grace, and that nothing I do – be it schoolwork, ‘work’-work, friendships, etc. – will be successful without God’s hand on me and His blessings on my attempts to do His will,” Bradley says. “Eucharistic adoration is a perfect opportunity to be still and let go and let God pour out His graces on me – which He does, every week, without fail.”
Beginning this year, ASCC is working with fellow students and campus ministers to establish adoration programs on Catholic campuses and to increase participation at the 13 Catholic colleges known to already offer periods of adoration. ASCC leaders are developing materials and a guidebook to help campus ministers plan their programs and motivate students to get involved. A significant portion of ASCC’s national conference, scheduled for November 9 in Washington, D.C., will focus on training students to return to their campuses and promote Eucharistic adoration.
All this has been made possible by the generous gifts of a few Catholics who have experienced the power of Eucharistic adoration in their parishes. Two of those donors have promised to match up to $20,000 in other donations, a goal ASCC hopes to meet before the end of the school year.
ASCC is also assisted by its sponsor, the Cardinal Newman Society, a national organization that seeks the renewal of Catholic identity in America’s Catholic colleges. The Society launched ASCC last year in an effort to harness the energy and enthusiasm of Catholic college students who are finding that they can have an important role in building Christian campus culture. In addition to helping students lead prayer groups, pro-life activities, evangelization efforts, and other programs, the Cardinal Newman Society and ASCC are relying on the Eucharistic Adoration Program to demonstrate students’ contributions to the renewal of Catholic higher education.
“God knows what He’s doing, we’re just allowing Him to do it through us,” says J.J. Mammi, a senior who launched the Eucharistic adoration program at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. “That’s what faith is.”
Patrick J. Reilly is President of the Cardinal Newman Society, a national organization to renew Catholic identity in America’s Catholic colleges. He can be contacted at [email protected] or Cardinal Newman Society, 10562 Associates Ct., Manassas, VA 20109.