The people of Newtownstewart have just completed the annual Forty Hours Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, writes Rev. Roland Colhoun, CC.
The Church’s choice of the number ‘40’ has a biblical origin. The Old Testament and New Testament describe historic events such as the 40-day flood, the 40 years in the wilderness, Christ’s 40 days in the Judean Desert, the 40 days between the Resurrection and the Ascension, and the 40 days of Lent.
However, down the years, parishes have reduced the Forty Hours to a less demanding period, sometimes just the hours between Sunday Mass and evening Devotions.
However, in the light of the Covid-19 virus, the pastoral forum in Newtownstewart decided to organise a lengthy period of Eucharistic Adoration. The result was 40 continuous hours with the Blessed Sacrament so that 40 meant 40! Exposition began in the Oratory on Main Street at 3pm on 25th September and continued for two days and two nights, ending on the Sunday morning.
There were at least two volunteers for every one of the 40 hours, and some hours had up to 20 adorers. Even through the nights, many people knelt in silent prayer.
The Bishop of Derry, Dónal McKeown, drew the solemn celebration to a close with the Sunday Mass in St Eugene’s Church, Glenock. Praising the Church’s tradition, he underlined the importance of Eucharistic Adoration for the renewal of parish life and thanked the people for their generosity in prayer and intercession for 40 hours.
Picture: Pictured with Bishop Dónal McKeown of Diocese of Derry are members of the Pastoral Forum of the Parish of Ardstraw East: Martin Kerrigan, Bishop Dónal McKeown, Shauneen Kilpatrick, Anne McDonnell, Ashlene Canning and Fr Roland Colhoun.