When Libby Giordano was approached to become involved as weekly Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament began at Iona Prep in New Rochelle on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12, 2019, she didn’t want to let the opportunity pass, but also wasn’t sure how she could find time in her busy schedule as a mother of seven.
At that time, son Vito, her oldest child, had just entered Iona Prep as a freshman. Father Justin Cinnante, O. Carm., the school chaplain, asked Prep’s Mothers’ Auxiliary, which Mrs. Giordano had joined, to playing a leading role in coordinating the hours of the Adoration schedule and to encourage its members to sign up to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.
Not certain about her answer, Mrs. Giordano prayed about the opportunity. “I said, ‘Listen, God. If you want this to happen, it’s got to be easy because I have a lot to do,’” she said in a phone interview last week.
She ended up signing up to pray, and to coordinate the scheduling of moms, as well as a few dads and grandmothers, who have formed the nucleus of the prayer team. About 50 people occasionally sign up for an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, with a dozen or so regulars filling most of the prayer hours each Thursday, the day for Adoration.
The Adoration schedule, as Father Cinnante explained it, runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a break for Mass, which he celebrates at 11 a.m. The day concludes with the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 p.m. followed by Benediction led by Father Cinnante.
Father Cinnante’s original idea was to have a weekly day of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament with the intention of praying for students and families, faculty, staff and administrators of Iona Prep.
At least one or two mothers, or other adults, are assigned to pray each hour, with staggered schedules to ensure someone is always present in the chapel. The group, which follows the inspiration of St. Monica, prays for the safety of students and that they maintain an upstanding lifestyle.
Father Cinnante said many of the mothers have told him that while they initially got involved for the benefit of their boys, they have received “tremendous peace and graces for themselves.”
Mrs. Giordano and her husband, Stephen, who also participates in the Adoration ministry when his schedule permits, are the parents of five boys and two girls, ranging from an 18-month-old to Vito, who is 15.
She said she has found the quiet, prayerful time she spends before the Blessed Sacrament to be “very grounding.”
“I have found it to be a time that I look forward to…I have started to grasp an understanding of really how powerful the Real Presence is,” she said.
Mrs. Giordano also praised the Iona Prep administration for standing behind the initiative. From time to time, especially when she is having problems registering sufficient numbers of volunteers for the prayer slots, the school cooperates by sending out email blasts to alleviate the shortfall.
“I love that I’m sending my son to an institution that gets it. They understand that this is one of the central pieces of our faith, that we have this True Presence. That is going to do the converting and the protecting, keeping our boys on the right path.”
In just her son’s time at Prep, she has seen the good work that the Mothers’ Auxiliary accomplishes on fund-raising and programmatic initiatives.
“It’s nice that they are putting time into praying for the protection of these boys spiritually,” she said. “They are all taken care of in many other ways in this community; it’s good we’re focusing on their spiritual well-being as well.”
At certain times of the year, such as when college applications are due, more boys come by to spend some time in Adoration. Because her son is a little younger, Mrs. Giordano didn’t realize at first what was prompting the increased attendance by students.
“They know it’s there when they need it,” she said.
Sometimes, students or faculty members drop by for five or 10 minutes, during a lunch period. The chapel is in a central location that is easy for all to access.
In case volunteers who come to pray are unsure of how to proceed, Father Cinnante has prepared a packet with “a great set of prayers,” explaining the Mysteries of the Rosary and giving good background material about St. Monica and intercessory prayer, Mrs. Giordano said.
Father Cinnante, who is in his third year at Iona Prep, said holding Adoration at the chapel has borne fruit for the students’ personal spiritual journeys, and also benefits the entire school community.
“The whole school community is invited to come and pray,” Father Cinnante said. “It’s a beautiful spirit of prayer and peace in the building, especially on Thursdays, because of the Adoration for an extended period of time.”