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St. Mary's sets overnight vigil

The custom of displaying the consecrated host is ancient, Father Cletus Watson said.

Published July 18, 2007


St. Mary Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church will hold its second overnight adoration vigil and exposition of the Holy Eucharist this week.

According to Catholic teaching, the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Christ and it is deeply revered. The overnight vigil has been planned to give believers the opportunity to pray before the consecrated host used in Holy Communion from early Thursday afternoon to Friday morning.

The consecrated host will be displayed for adoration in a monstrance, a glass-faced vessel, that will be set on the church's main altar. It is a custom, said Father Cletus Watson, St. Mary's pastor, that is centuries old.

The vigil at the historic red brick church at Fourth Street and Fifth Avenue S is being organized by Our Lady of Grace Praesidium of the Legion of Mary. The worldwide organization has more than 3-million members and is the largest apostolic organization of lay people in the Catholic Church. There are 14 chapters in Pinellas County.

Members of the group, called Legionaries, strive for a balance of prayer and ministry and perform various services in the parish, including visiting the sick, evangelizing and helping with religious education.

Watson said the Legionaries, like other parish associations, have an important function.

"They do a number of good things around the church and for the church," he said.

Rosa Matthews, 69, is the former president of St. Mary's 3-year-old chapter. Now the group's vice president, she said St. Mary's Legionaries evangelize door to door throughout the parish. In the past three years, members of the small group have visited 360 households, she said.

The mother of six sons and grandmother of eight said she and other members of the legion visit the elderly, going to many of the downtown senior citizen apartments, and say the rosary at Williams Park every Saturday.

"The parish priests cannot do it all," she said. "There is so much to be done."

This is the second year in a row that the adoration vigil and exposition is being held at St. Mary's, said Matthews, who added that the church has notified the St. Petersburg Police Department of the overnight program. She said a shorter vigil is held each Thursday, beginning after the 12:10 p.m. Mass and ending at 6:30 p.m. with a short benediction service.

Legion members decided to plan the overnight vigil because one of their goals is to strive for holiness, Matthews said.

"An extension of that is to offer such things as would help other people to become holy," she said. "In praying and sitting before the Holy Eucharist, it is a time when we literally talk to God - and we listen. Through that, we hope the word is spread that what we believe is very important to us," she said.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at 727 892-2283 or


Eucharistic Adoration Vigil

Starts at 1 p.m. Thursday and ends with Benediction and Mass at 7:30 a.m. Friday, St. Mary Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, 515 Fourth St. S, St. Petersburg. Call 896-2191. Coffee and refreshments provided.

[Last modified July 17, 2007, 21:34:56]

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