BEAUFORT—Tropical Storm Hermine may have caused power outages and downed trees, but the storm could not diminish the prayer, praise and adoration of a group of devoted Catholics at St. Peter Church during a “Night of Love.”
The all-night prayer vigil was held from 9 p.m. on Sept. 2 through 6 a.m. on Sept. 3, shortly after Hermine passed through the Lowcountry. The event was planned four months ago, long before storms threatened to dampen the evening, explained Frances Friedman, a St. Peter parishioner who presented the idea to Father Paul MacNeil, administrator, and some fellow faithful.
“It is a common belief among vigil groups that for every person making an all-night vigil, a thousand souls, who would otherwise be lost, would receive the grace of final contrition,” said Friedman.
Anna Sudomerski, co-chair of the vigil, explained that the night participants pray in reparation for the wrongs of society and to obtain special graces and mercy for a generally sinful world.
“The vigils identify with Jesus and Mary in the redemption of the world,” Sudomerski said. Without much more than emergency power, flashlights and candles, the evening began with a Mass of the Sacred Heart intended to save souls and convert sinners.
“The light of Christ will illuminate this evening,” said Father MacNeil, who celebrated Mass. It concluded with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament led by the Knights of Columbus, who also coordinated security for the evening. The procession was accompanied by a capella hymns by members of St. Peter’s choir.
Beginning at 10 p.m., each hour was marked by special intentions, including for the souls in purgatory; the sick; ending abortion and the protection of all life; the United States and world peace; all priests, deacons, and religious men and women; the Church and religious freedom; and for vigil participants.
In the midnight hour, a snack break was taken with flashlights and candles in the Narthex of the church. Because of the power outage, hot caffeinated coffee was unavailable, so the devoted drank cold drinks and prayed to be energized by the Holy Spirit instead.
The evening concluded with a 5 a.m. Benediction and repose of the Blessed Sacrament, Mass, holy Communion and the Fatima prayers. Despite the weather-related difficulties, “those who attended answered the call from Jesus Himself to be there and were truly blessed,” said Theresa Pulliam, a parishioner at St. Peter.
“This night truly had the hand of God in it and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,” Sudomerski agreed. People also participated in the sacrament of reconciliation, prayed the rosary, sang, spent time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and more.
The volunteers who planned “A Night of Love” at St. Peter would like to help other churches organize their own vigil. Call the church at 843-522- 9555 for more information.
By Rose Ewing | Special to the Catholic Miscellany