COLUMBUS — The seconds continue to tick by.
Each passing moment marks a step closer to recognizing an anniversary of a long-running tradition at St. Bonaventure Catholic Church. On the church’s website there is a clock that tracks perpetual adoration at the parish.
The clock tracks the number of years, days, hours and seconds uninterrupted adoration has been taking place at St. Bonaventure. Soon that clock will hit 55 years.
The church began perpetual adoration on Feb. 14, 1961. Day or night since then, there has been at least one person in the church to pray and worship Jesus.
“Having someone in the church every minute of the day and evening for the last 55 years is quite impressive,” said Fr. Mike Swanton, pastor of the church.
St. Bonaventure has hundreds of parishioners who spend an hour, sometimes weekly, in adoration. A few of those people have been doing so since the perpetual adoration program began.
Ed Heimann and his wife, Joyce, have been taking part in the practice for more than 40 years. He regularly spends an hour on Tuesday evenings in the church. The practice is a way for him to connect with God.
“It is just a way to stay closer to God and ask for help for whatever you need and for your family’s needs. Also, it is for thanksgiving for the many graces and blessings received over the years,” he said.
During his most recent visit for adoration, Heimann was one of two people in the dimly lit and quiet church. He was kneeling in the second pew while praying the rosary and looking forward to the altar where the Eucharist was displayed in a special holder called a monstrance.
The church began to display the Eucharist continuously in 2002. Since then, the Eucharist has always been exposed, except during Masses and other special occasions. Having it out in the open serves as a reminder of the presence of Jesus.
“The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith. We believe Jesus is really present in the Eucharist. In a special way, through Eucharistic adoration, Jesus is very close to us. He looks at us, and we look at him — just like a newly married couple in love,” Swanton said.
Gerry Engelbert started taking part in adoration a year after it began. He has rarely missed his regular time early Tuesday mornings. He said he enjoys the peacefulness in the church at that hour and that the exposed Eucharist adds to the experience.
“You can’t get any closer to the Lord than that,” he said.
Through the years, numerous people have taken part in adoration after the program was started by the Nocturnal Adoration Society of St. Bonaventure. Adoration began on Saturdays in 1951. Parishioners soon began to fill the daytime hours each day of the week. That birthed perpetual adoration on the first day of Lent in 1961. The program has continued with the only exceptions being during hazardous weather and Good Friday.
Many of the hours are filled by people who regularly take a slot each week, said Joan Jahn, coordinator of the program. There are parishioners who serve as captains to help fill in hours and look for substitutes.
Jahn said people taking part in adoration are welcome to pray, read the Bible, say a rosary or simply enjoy being in the presence of the Lord.
However a person chooses to spend that time, Swanton said he feels the parish is more alive spiritually because of perpetual adoration and constant prayer holds back the hand of evil.
“It’s a great way to take time out of our hectic lives to rest in the presence of our Lord. Of course, we can pray anywhere. But being with Jesus in the Eucharist is like sitting next to our best friend,” he said.