In a world filled with text message chimes and calendar alerts, the Adoration Chapel in Bay City
provides a silent oasis to pause and reflect.
Since August 1987, people have visited the chapel 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to pray. In the chapel, they sit in silence, praying for personal concerns or global issues. Some just sit in peaceful silence.
The Rev. José Mariá Cabrera, Pastor of All Saints Parish. celebrates Mass near the entrance to the Adoration Chapel. (Photo courtesy of All Saints Parish.)
“In reality, prayer is a relationship, being in the presence,” says Rev. José Mariá Cabrera, Pastor of All Saints Parish. “Sometimes you have words to say, sometimes you don’t. You’re just there. That is the beauty of it.”
While the chapel closed during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic and occasionally for bad weather, Cabrera the says that for the most part, someone has been praying inside the chapel continuously for 35 years.
People of all faiths are invited into the Adoration Chapel. (Photo courtesy of All Saints Parish)
In the beginning, the chapel was located inside St. Joseph Church. When St. Joseph closed, the chapel moved to All Saints Parish, St. James Church. Though it’s housed in the building at 710 Columbus Ave., Cabrera says the chapel belongs to the entire 11-county Diocese of Saginaw.
It provides a peaceful place for people of all faiths. The entrance to the chapel is at the corner of Columbus Avenue and Monroe Street. Inside, light streams through stained glass windows. Pews face an altar, topped with a golden “monstrance.” The monstrance is a special vessel that contains a small, consecrated eucharistic host (sacramental bread).
“Anyone can come at any time,” Cabrera says. “Anyone who wants to pray, even for 5 minutes, can come and pray.”
About 200 people, called adorers, routinely sign up for times in the chapel. However, you don’t have to sign up, or even be Catholic, to use the space.
Cabrera has seen families gather to mourn loved ones. He’s seen people pray for patients in the nearby McLaren Bay Region Hospital. He once saw a large family gather in the chapel late at night still crying from the news of a loved one’s suicide.
Sunlight streams in through stained glass windows near the rafters of the Adoration Chapel. (Photo courtesy of All Saints Parish)
“It’s also great for important decisions,” Cabrera says. “I know people who had to make family decision or business decisions and they were just overwhelmed. And so they come and pray in the chapel to feel that guidance and they are much more at peace with that decision.”
The location, near All Saints Catholic schools, attracts parents before and after school drop-offs and pick-ups. The chapel’s location just a few blocks from McLaren Bay Region means ambulance sirens frequently echo through the building, prompting prayers for the people being transported and the healthcare professionals treating them.
All forms of silent prayer are welcome inside the chapel.
On a recent sunny fall afternoon, one man sat in a pew holding a rosary, another had a book by his side, while still another knelt in silence. Although a group of knitters gathered in another part of the building, the Adoration Chapel was quiet. Cabrera says he’s seen children fall asleep in the pews.
“Most of us understand prayer as (spoken) prayers, but in reality, prayer is just the presence. It’s just like any relationship. It’s all about being in the presence of Jesus.”
In today’s world, security is a concern. Security cameras watch everything that happens inside the chapel and near its glass doors. Newcomers are welcome, but the doors are locked from the outside and must be opened by someone inside.
Cabrera encourages visitors at all times, but often nudges people to visit the chapel when the traditional Mass schedule doesn’t work with their schedules.
“The Adoration Chapel is my wild card,” he says with a laugh. When people say they can’t come to church because they work on Sundays, he tells them “The Adoration Chapel is open 24/7.”
He admits he’s not sure how many people take him up on the option. For the most part, he says the adorers are committed Catholics. He compares it to people who feel addicted to exercise and go to the gym no matter how busy they get. The adorers feel the need to pray.
Cabrera, though, invites anyone who seeks peace to visit the chapel.
“It’s so hard to be in the quiet nowadays, especially with all our technology,” he says. “It’s very hard. I would say that even a person of no faith whatsoever who wants to have a moment of peace, they will get it here. That’s what’s so beautiful about it.”