By Nicholas Plante ’18
This Friday, April 7, Chaminade High School will be hosting a Holy Hour for the young men and women of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Starting at 7:00 p.m. in Darby Auditorium, newly-installed Bishop John Barres will preside over Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and address everyone in attendance. The service will be followed by a dodgeball tournament and a reception with light refreshments.
The main focus of the evening will be to pray for and promote vocations. The Holy Hour is open to all – not just those who might want to live a religious life. It offers each one of us the opportunity to support the seminarians of our diocese, our three Marianist novices, and others preparing for the priesthood or consecrated life, all of whom will be present at the service. Additionally, the congregation will be joined by the Sisters of Life, a community of religious women dedicated to the promulgation of pro-life causes that has had a significant impact in and around the diocese.
Some of the seminarians who will be in attendance are Chaminade graduates. These men were once in our shoes and have made a great commitment to Christ – one that is worthy of respect and praise. They will someday become the ones who bring us and our children closer to God.
About a decade ago, the diocese first began holding these Holy Hours for those considering vocations at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington. The program outgrew that space over time, and St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Hicksville has continued the monthly tradition for five years. This year, Fr. Joseph Fitzgerald, the director of vocations for the diocese, gave more venues a chance to host the services in order to reach out to those who have not yet had an opportunity to participate. Given the strong role that it plays in the spiritual formation of the diocese, Chaminade has been asked to celebrate a Holy Hour for the first time.
“The bigger the attendance, the more we’re going to make Darby Auditorium a temple of the Holy Spirit, where some will be inspired to consider a religious vocation, and where everyone will join together in prayerful and spirited support of those who do,” said Bro. Stephen Balletta, S.M. ’74, the vocations minister for the Province of Meribah. Bro. Stephen is helping to coordinate the Holy Hour alongside Fr. Joe. Both men anticipate the participation of many different youth ministers, schools, and youth groups from all around the diocese.
Upon being designated to our diocese last December, Bishop Barres addressed the youth, saying, “I am ecstatic about your futures in Jesus Christ and the way you, in the words of Pope Francis, ‘shake up the Church and the world.’” From early on in his episcopate, the bishop saw how the young people here exhibit a great zeal in dedicating themselves to the mission of the Catholic Church. “I cannot wait to meet you. I cannot wait to serve you,” he eagerly stated.
Over the past three months, Bishop Barres has demonstrated that he wants to visit schools and parishes throughout our diocese in order to get to know and minister to his people. From attending a number of sporting events to addressing the Catholic school students of Long Island in a special broadcast, he has already established a strong presence within the youth community.
This coming Friday, however, marks one of Bishop Barres’s first official appearances before the younger generation of the diocese. At the Holy Hour, students from all across Nassau and Suffolk will have the opportunity to come together and give witness to the words of our new shepherd. As one large community of believers, they will pray for those who are discerning vocations, as well as the men and women who have courageously accepted the call to serve God in a religious life.
Considering that the event is positioned on a Friday evening right before the start of Holy Week, it should provide those in attendance with an opportunity to reflect and prepare themselves to receive the risen Christ. As Bro. Stephen said, “We hope the Holy Hour will capitalize on the graces of Lent, of the Sacred Triduum, and of the Easter season, inspiring young people to grow closer to Jesus and His Church – as young lay men and women, as brothers and sisters living the consecrated life, and as diocesan priests.”
All are encouraged to participate in the activities following the hour of prayer. Bishop Barres, who played point guard for the JV basketball team at Princeton University, will put his athleticism on display in the dodgeball tournament. At the same time, a social will be held in the cafeteria for others to hang out and mingle with students from different schools. The event will conclude by 10:30 p.m.
If you are a Chaminade student looking to sign up for what promises to be a memorable evening of prayer and camaraderie, fill out the form on Canvas that can be found in The Hanger under Religious Activities. Anyone who has questions or is looking to volunteer should see Bro. Stephen in his office next to room 101 or contact him at SBalletta@chaminade-hs.org.