March 15, 2017
By Suzanne Pietropaoli
Malone - “I love to go, and I always leave Hearts on Fire with a heart full of joy!”
Twelve-year-old Ciara LeRoy is describing the Praise and Worship Eucharistic Holy Hour she attends each First Friday at St. Andre Bessette Parish. Her sister Sydney, 13, is equally enthusiastic: “This is very lovely, and very inspiring. And we really enjoy singing the music we know from Guggenheim.”
Aimee Le Roy echoes her daughters’ enthusiasm. “We love it! The girls look forward to it all month, and so do I. The prayer and singing are beautiful, and very uplifting.”
For Dave Petrelli, “This is an incredibly faith-filled experience. Sometimes I wonder what we were doing before we had this amazing opportunity!” To his daughter, Lauryn, 14, “This Holy Hour is really beautiful, especially the music!”
Tammy Brooks describes Hearts on Fire as “very heart-touching. It is so spiritual, and knowing the love the Lord has for us is just overwhelming.”
Her high-school age daughters agree: Ashley describes the experience as “very spiritual,” while Jessica finds it “really faith-filled.”
But one need not be a teenager (or parent of one) to appreciate this extraordinary time of Adoration, prayer, and praise.
“What could be more beautiful,” asks Kim Shackett, “than coming to Adoration and being present with the Lord, talking with him and hearing his voice? It is quite an experience; it even made me cry.”
Megan Stark agrees: “What a wonderful event! I am so thankful we have it right here in our parish. I love Eucharistic Adoration, but Praise and Worship takes it to a whole new level. There is something so beautiful about singing to the Lord. I am so grateful that Father Giroux has brought this to our parish!”
But this experience is not limited to parishioners. Leagon Carlin, third-year college seminarian at the Jospehinum, attended Hearts on Fire on March 3 and brought along some fellow seminarians who were visiting over college break.
Despite sub-zero temperatures and a two-hour round trip from his home in Plattsburgh, Leagon was clearly delighted to be at Hearts on Fire.
“It is amazing to see so many campers from Guggenheim here, and so many of their parents,” he said. “It is inspiring to see so many people gathered to worship the Lord around the Eucharist, source and summit of our faith.
“How blessed we are that the Lord gave us this way to praise him,” Carlin said. “This makes me want to be a priest more than ever.”
Hearts on Fire is, indeed, for everyone, as St. Andre Bessette pastor, Father Joe Giroux, makes clear.
When the parish hosted a mission to close the Year of Mercy, there was a desire to offer something that would appeal to the young—and the discovery that it actually appealed to everyone!
“We scheduled a Praise and Worship Holy Hour and asked Joey Izzo, a talented musician and longtime Guggenheim staff member, to come and lead music,” Father Giroux said. “It went so well that we thought of offering it regularly, followed by a time of fellowship.
“Though the idea of a bonfire originated with an event for teens, folks of all ages enjoy it—even when cold weather forces us to gather around a virtual bonfire in the parish center,” he said.
The parish hosted its first Hearts on Fire: Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with a Praise and Worship Holy Hour Dec. 2.
“We are blessed that Joey Izzo has committed to leading music,” Father Giroux said. “I see teenagers who know this worship style from Guggenheim: no surprise there. But I am surprised and encouraged by the number of older parishioners who keep coming.
“It is powerful to watch this prayer bridging the generations,” the pastor said. “Whole families come, too, which is a great thing to see.”
How does this kind of prayer fit into the Catholic experience?
“Praise and Worship,” says Father Giroux, “enriches our relationship with God and strengthens our participation in the Mass.
“This prayer is not a substitute for Sunday Mass,” he said. “God wants more for us than one hour a week—so ought God not get more from us? He can’t say to us in one hour on Sunday everything that is on his heart, nor can we say to him everything that is on our hearts in that one hour.
“Hearts on Fire offers another opportunity to be refreshed and renewed, and to give praise to the God who loves us,” Father Giroux said.
Glad as St. Andre’s Parish is to be hosting this event, the pastor points out, “It has always been our hope that people from around the region feel free to come and take part in Hearts on Fire and to fellowship with us. We share the same faith and worship the same God; all are welcome!
“We especially hope that people from the area will join us April 7, which marks ‘The Light is On for You” gere at St. Andre’s, (Notre Dame Church),” he said. “Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will begin Thursday evening, April 6, at 7 p.m. and will continue until 8 p.m. Friday. Confessions will be heard Thursday evening from 7 p.m. to 9 and from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday.
“The Hearts on Fire Holy Hour from 7 p.m. to 8 will close the day, followed by a bonfire and fellowship,” Father Giroux said.