St. Joseph Parish celebrates quarter-century of perpetual adoration

A man walks into the brightly lit Holy Family Adoration Chapel at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Lake Orion in this file photo. St. Joseph has hosted perpetual Eucharistic adoration for northern Oakland County Catholics since 1993.

Vocations, answered prayers just some of myriad blessings for Eucharistic chapel

LAKE ORION — Gemma Falvey is a believer in the power of Eucharistic adoration. In 2009, it saved her husband’s life.

“My husband, Joe, had a major heart attack nine years ago, and he had died. The EMTs had gotten there quickly, and they worked on him for 17 minutes. They would bring him back and then lose him again. He got to the hospital, and the next day he was in a coma,” Falvey said.

When he came out of the coma, the doctors said 85 percent of his heart was damaged, and most of his memory was gone.

“He’d wake up, and didn’t know where he was,” Falvey said.

Falvey, coordinator of the Holy Family Adoration Chapel at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Lake Orion, had her holy hour coming up, and she didn’t miss it.

“I asked our Lord, ‘Please, take him if he’s going to be a vegetable, or heal him,’” Falvey said. “And in His mercy, He healed him. Today, 15 percent of his heart is damaged, recovered from 85 percent. He has good memory and a little bit of vision loss, but that’s it. He’s great today.”

Falvey credits her husband’s recovery and many other blessings to the grace of God through the Blessed Sacrament, especially at St. Joseph, which has hosted perpetual adoration in northern Oakland County for 25 consecutive years.

On Aug. 19, Auxiliary Bishop Arturo Cepeda presided over a Mass celebrating the chapel’s 25th anniversary, a milestone Falvey says celebrates countless lives changed and faiths strengthened.

Actually, “countless” might be an exaggeration. Falvey has the numbers.

“We’ve had 133,797 visits to the chapel since we started keeping track in 2010. That’s averaging 14,866 a year,” said Falvey, adding attendance has increased over the quarter century of the chapel’s existence.

St. Joseph’s adoration chapel began in 1993, when parishioner Rosemary Chuey raised the funds to open a new perpetual adoration room in a former convent on the St. Joseph Parish campus. When the church expanded in 2002, the chapel was moved into the former sacristy, which is separated from the main church only by the tabernacle.

Ann Sulisz credits Chuey, who passed away earlier this year after coordinating the chapel for many years, and then-pastor Fr. Leo Phalen with the zeal necessary to begin adoration at the parish, which has continued 24/7 ever since — save for dangerous weather and the three-day Triduum between Good Friday and Easter Sunday each year.

“Rosie always said it was like sitting in the sunshine with the rays of the Blessed Sacrament shining on you,” said Sulisz, who coordinates the midnight to 6 a.m. shift for the chapel. “It’s a very beautiful devotion, and there have been many wonderful personal revelations in the chapel, from engagements and answered prayers, to the adoption of children or couples being able to conceive. There are some really good stories.”

Four sons of the parish have been ordained in recent years, Sulisz said, each of whom credited time spent in chapel as instrumental to their vocations to the priesthood.

Though some might think overnight shifts would be the hardest to fill, Sulisz says those who commit fall in love with it.

D.J. Jenks, a St. Joseph parishioner, has been doing overnight adoration for more than 20 years, usually between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. on the weekends.

“I love the midnight hours because it’s very quiet,” said Jenks. “You cannot leave the Blessed Sacrament unattended, but it gives you personal time with the Lord.”

The chapel will receive a facelift this year, with new carpeting and lighting and reupholstered chairs, Sulisz said, thanks to a gift left to the parish by a late parishioner.

Visitors to the chapel can leave prayer requests either in a guest book, private box or whiteboard posted outside the chapel, which are then offered by those who visit.

Holy Family Adoration Chapel

St. Joseph Parish’s Holy Family Adoration Chapel hosts perpetual adoration year-round. Visit the chapel at 715 N. Lapeer Road, Lake Orion.