BY FR. ANDY SENSENIG OMI

I remember my first experience of ‘Holy Hour’ on the Feast of the Assumption in Brewer, Maine, as a new Catholic.

As I entered the church, I really did not know what to expect. I saw a choir in front singing Marian Hymns, a group of Felician Sisters, who ran one of our local hospitals kneeling in the pews as a group with various parishioners around them. I was transfixed by a golden metal stand that looked like the sun on a pole. I was informed later that it is called a “monstrance” and the white center was the Blessed Sacrament, Itself.

Our pastor, Fr. Harvey, was in front kneeling and announced to everyone that we were going to recite the Joyful, then the Sorrowful and finally the Glorious Mysteries of the rosary. I reached down into my pocket and realized that I had left my rosary at home. Embarrassed that I had left my rosary, which I had just received on my first day of RCIA the previous week, I tried my best to pray with the “original rosary” (praying the Hail
Marys with your fingers, according to Fr. Harvey.)

As I got through the Apostle’s Creed and the Our Father, one of the Felician Sisters, who was kneeling behind me thrust her hand in front of me with an extra rosary for me to use. I looked back to whisper a “thank you,” she smiled and whispered back, “Rookie.” The other Felician Sisters were smiling too and I felt that I was going to get through this Holy Hour just fine.

At the end of the Holy Hour, Fr. Harvey went forward and picked up the monstrance to make the sign of the cross. I was told by the sisters that it was the blessing of Jesus upon everyone present. There was a warm glow of love, companionship and hope present as we all walked down stairs for coffee and muffins. I thanked the sister, who loaned me the rosary and she said, “You’re welcome.” Then she put her hand on my shoulder and said “Who knows? Maybe you will be running a Holy Hour someday.” I laughed at the idea, but that was the first time another person other than myself, thought that I might have a vocation.

The reason why I wanted to share with you this story about my first Holy Hour is that Holy Hours, for me, are safe harbors of Grace in my life. I remember when 9/11 occurred and the church was full of people: scared, angry, and anxious. We had a series of Holy Hours in Sitka last year due to the devastating news of the landslide, which offered a calming hope in the midst of the chaos. Holy Hours have been moments of thanksgiving too. The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate gathered for a Holy Hour the day before my ordination to the priesthood.

Right now, Bishop Edward Burns, is requesting that we in the Diocese of Juneau have a Holy Hour on the eve (Monday Night) of the upcoming election on Tuesday, Nov. 8th. We are going to have one here at St. Gregory’s, not out of anxiety or fear, but out of
trust. The same trust that the Archangel Gabriel was talking about with Our Lady, Mary, when he said to her “With God all things are possible” (Luke 1:37).

I learned that kind of trust is possible from my first Holy Hour in a small parish in Maine, and it still rings true. All we have to do is come, visit, pray and know that Jesus with Mary and all the saints are with us to the end. So, I hope, everyone has a Holy Hour; and who knows, maybe a vocation or two can be discovered along the way. It has happened and it can happen, if only we learn to trust in Jesus, simply and completely.