The Catholic Commentator 

Warren Braud remembers being adamantly opposed to serving as coordinator of the perpetual adoration chapel at St. Mary of False River Church in New Roads. A little nudge from his wife, however, quickly changed his mind.  

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The perpetual adoration chapel at St. Mary of False River celebrated its 25th anniversary Aug. 15. At left is the monstrance. Photo by Bonny Van | The Catholic Commentator  

 

“I tried to find all the excuses not to do it,” he said, “and my wife told me I had to.” 

That was in 1992. Twenty-five years later, the perpetual adoration chapel is still going strong.  

“It has brought a lot of peace,” said Janet Lucia, who along with her husband was a part of the original adorers. “We both still go, and we both look forward to it.”  

The chapel, which celebrated its silver anniversary on the feast of the Assumption on Aug. 15, was the brainchild of Father Miles Walsh. Father Walsh, then pastor at St. Mary, was appointed by Bishop Stanley J. Ott as the “priest-coordinator” to work with priests and parishioners in helping open up Adoration Chapels throughout the diocese.”  

Father Walsh said the plan came about after St. Pope John Paul II gave permission to bishops for perpetual adoration. Previously, it was allowed only in religious communities where “the Eucharist could be safeguarded and adored around the clock.”  

Father Walsh said 12 adoration chapels were established with “six on the west side of the (Mississippi) river and six on the east side.”  

“A parish had to have 1,000 families to establish a chapel because you want at least two adorers,” he said. “Our goal was to get 400 adorers signed up so we started with my parish.”  

The chapel was set up in a small vacant house next to the rectory on church grounds.  

“It was perfect,” said Father Walsh. “There was a large entrance foyer for the sign up, a bathroom, a place for a telephone for emergencies, then you walked into the main area which was perfect for adoration.”  

The opening ceremony, celebrated in conjunction with a Mass on the feast of the Assumption, included a procession with the Eucharist to the chapel. Father Walsh said the decision was made to dedicate the chapel on a Marian feast day.  

“I’ll never forget that day,” said Father Walsh, remembering how an unusual August cool front had come through the area. “It was a crystal clear, cool day with a breeze literally sent by God from heaven, a sign of divine favor if I’ve ever seen one.”  

For 22 years, Braud and his wife, Margaret, who passed away two years ago, went to the chapel for one hour a week.  

“It became part of our life, my wife and I,” he said. “Every Sunday morning from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. It was just a part of us. We rarely missed.”  

Cathie Crochet, one of 10 of the original 26 adorers who continues to serve, said she felt called to sign up after her prayers had been answered for a job in New Roads so that she could stop commuting to Baton Rouge for work.  

“Then it was probably two months after that that Father (Walsh) started with the appeal for the adoration chapel,” she said.  

Crochet, an hourly coordinator for the 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. time slot, was assigned to Mondays and said her time in the chapel has “enriched” her life. She recalled a time when a young lady came into the chapel crying. Crochet said she asked the young woman if she could help and then prayed with her.  

“You know it’s like God puts you there for a reason and so you have to figure out just to say, ‘Can I do anything? Can I help you?’ and you would just pray with people like that. And, I think that then you know you’re where God wants you to be.”  

More than a decade after the chapel was dedicated, St. Mary parishioner and architect Glenn Morgan collaborated with then-pastor Father Mike Schatzle on a new building. In 2004, the new chapel was built in a more prominent location, next to the church on Main Street. It was modeled after the 1760 St. Francis Chapel of Pointe Coupee. 

Lucia said the impact of being part of something so special came to light at the anniversary Mass.  

“It made it every more special to have Father Miles there. It was a beautiful, beautiful ceremony,” she said. “I was very privileged to be a part of that from the very beginning.” 

In a letter to parishioners, current pastor Msgr. Robert Berrgreen said that continuous prayer before the Blessed Sacrament over the past quarter of a century equaled “approximately 219,000 hours.”  

“A myriad of blessings and personal miracles have been shared throughout our 25 years of perpetual adoration,” he stated. “Most common are the testimonies of the deep inner peace experienced by adorers, as problems and burdens are presented to the Lord during this personal time.”  

“The amazing thing is that it’s been going on for 25 years,” said Father Walsh. “I saw many miracles, healings and conversions. The final encyclical from Pope John Paul II was on the Eucharist and he speaks about adoration of the Eucharist and he calls it lingering at the table. When you celebrate a special meal, the natural instinct is to stay at the table.”