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Archives Plattsburgh’s Holy Cross Parish starts family Adoration
Spending time with Jesus, families

March 8, 2023

By Mary Beth Bracy
Contributing Writer

PLATTSBURGH – “I have to tell my mom what I saw!” exclaimed one of the elementary school students the first time that they gazed upon Jesus in the Holy Eucharist exposed in the monstrance at St. John’s Church in Plattsburgh. “Are we going to visit Jesus?” a three year old asked, wondering if they were going to the Adoration chapel again.

Desiree Kirk, director of Religious Education at Holy Cross Parish, shared her students’ testimonies.

Instead of having the students sit for an hour and listen to grownups talk the whole time, she and the other teachers set up four stations for kids to learn about: a saint, music, the Bible and Catechism, and to experience Adoration. Desiree was inspired to move in this direction by simple research. When her computer wasn’t printing properly, she googled which saint to ask for help.

“I came across Blessed Carlos Acutis and fell in love,” Kirk said. “I took my four children, ages three to thirteen, to see the Eucharistic miracles exhibit. So few people go to Adoration because they were never taught what it is. Carlos Acutis is such a relatable saint. He said to ‘pray to be a saint’ every day.”

When the teachers, including Brenda Smith and Sister Jackie Selappan, began the stations and brought the pre-K to 5th grade students to Adoration, they were enthusiastic. Children went home and told their parents.

“A mom asked if she could join,” Desiree continued. “We asked parents to sign up for Adoration with their families during Lent on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays. Over 15 families have signed up for the six weeks of Lent. If it is successful, I will continue it. Two other teachers are also sacrificing their time. I am so excited to have this opportunity.”

Edge students (6th – 8th grade) and families are also participating. Courtney Khristiansen, Middle School Faith Formation Director, often brainstorms and collaborates with Desiree. Nate Pultorak, Holy Cross’ organist and choir director, helps with the music.

“Attendance has risen exponentially,” Kirk noted.

This led to a monthly “Family Fun Day” where parents are invited to participate. At Thanksgiving time, Desiree reflected, families were invited and teachers showed them how we get all ready for Thanksgiving, setting up the table carefully. Then, they pulled everything away and families saw what looked like an altar set up for Mass. Teachers explained that the Mass was the real first Thanksgiving.

Based on positive feedback these experiences continued. Families spend time learning about the Bible and sacraments, make crafts together, have snacks and time for family pictures.

“The kids are the teachers,” said Kirk. “Parents are starving to be part of what their kids are doing.”

Kirk related a story about parents and children at Adoration. One day, a little boy showed his dad where Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is present in the monstrance. The dad said, “That represents Jesus.” The seven year old replied, “It is Jesus.” The dad answered “It symbolizes Jesus.” The boy responded: “If you walk up to Him, you can tell Him all your problems. Jesus loved Himself into that (the Holy Eucharist).”

Another boy started going with his dad to Adoration.

“Kids need to practice their faith and see it in action,” Kirk said. “It is something amazing for them. It is making an impact even with my own kids.”

Kirk’s eldest son said, “I have to put into action what’s in my heart,” and decided to go to the March for Life in Washington, DC. Students also organized a baby shower for the Gabriel Project and made pillows as gifts.

Sister Jackie brings the three year olds, including Kirk’s daughter, to Adoration. When they enter the chapel some say “Hi Jesus” and wave to Him. Kirk’s daughter and one of her friends make a “phone call” to Jesus. “They know all the prayers.”

The teachers use children friendly resources to teach the children about the Real Presence of Jesus and Eucharistic Adoration. One is a special interactive journal from catholicsprouts.com.

“(At first) kids may not know what to do or might not be able to stay for very long,” Kirk said. One time, the children offered a whole Rosary at Adoration and were very proud that they prayed the whole thing.

“We’re really encouraging prayers so they can say them in their hearts,” Kirk added.

There is a new section on the Holy Cross Parish website where people can submit prayer intentions that the students will pray for at Adoration: https://holycrosspbg.org/faith-formation

“We printed out Miracles of the Eucharist stories that children would enjoy and showed the kids the posters in the Eucharistic Adoration chapel,” Kirk explained. “We taught the kids how to be in there. We hung up a picture of the monstrance until ‘the big reveal.’ The kids were so quiet (when they saw Jesus exposed in the monstrance) they were gasping.”

The students always have activities to take home such as crosswords, craft, and coloring pages to help learn about prayers. In class, they learn about the meaning behind what we do to celebrate our faith. For instance, once they “built” Easter Candles and the teachers explained all of the Greek symbols on the candle. Kids who used to skip classes for sports now say “I can’t miss!”

During Lent, they will also be offering Stations of the Cross for children and families.

“It’s a team effort – we thrive, grow, and bloom,” Kirk said. “The program is stronger because of the Holy Spirit.” They currently have seventy three kids in pre-K to fifth grade, 20 in grades six through eight, and about 30 in confirmation class.

Kirk said she would be happy to talk with anyone who is interested in more information about their program and may be reached at the parish offices at 518-563-0730.

“We love our kids. I want them to have fun with faith and touch kids’ hearts because they’ll want to practice it more,” she said. “My mission is for every kid to find their happiness and joy in God.”

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