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 | By Danielle McGrew Tenbusch

Peace Amidst Heartache

The Volls Find Solace and Strength From Jesus in Adoration Chapel

Throughout Andrew and Monica Voll’s relationship, there has been one constant:  their Holy Hour of eucharistic adoration. When they first began dating, when they were discerning marriage, welcoming their son and, then, mourning their daughter:  Jesus was there, present for their joys and sorrows, in the Blessed Sacrament.

“No matter what's going around, no matter what trauma or turmoil is going on in our lives, that is a constant,” Andrew said.


An unexpected peace

Monica grew up accompanying her parents, Dan and Carol Dorion, to the Adoration Chapel at St. Joseph Church in Bay City. She recalled that they would pray together, read books about saints and walk around the chapel, praying the Stations of the Cross while taking turns illuminating each image with a flashlight.

When she moved out of her parents’ home, she chose her own hour:  10 to 11 a.m. on Sundays, right before Mass at Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish (St. Stanislaus Kostka at that time). She still has that hour, and Andrew and their son Levi join her each week before Mass.

“It's kind of like a full circle thing,” she remarked.  “I'm hoping that (Levi) can carry those types of memories with him when he gets older.”

The Volls’ family Holy Hour became a cornerstone of their faith lives, to Andrew’s surprise.

“When I started going, I found it really helpful for its sense of peace,” Andrew said. Lutheran at the time, he didn’t believe that Jesus is truly present in the Host in the monstrance. “I understood that there was something very peaceful and very special about it. I think that it was an integral part in my conversion into Catholicism, as well.”

When Andrew first accompanied Monica to the Adoration Chapel, he didn’t know what to do. He found it strange— yet peaceful.

“I think that that's a very special space. You can feel that closeness,” he said. “The peace that I received there was just an instant, everytime occurrence.”

In addition to his own Lutheran church service, Andrew joined Monica for a Holy Hour and Mass each Sunday. He researched, prayed, read and discussed the many questions he had about the faith he was beginning to understand. During that time, he proposed to Monica. She said yes, but still felt uneasy due to their different faiths.

With that issue weighing heavily on her heart, Monica went to the Adoration Chapel.

“I'm crying to Jesus. I was like, ‘Are you trying to tell me I can't marry him? Because I'm freaking out.’ I'm feeling all this on my heart,” she said. After weeping and praying, Monica wrote Andrew a letter explaining all her concerns, heartache and uncertainties and brought it to him.

“I’m bawling my eyes out,” she said, recalling the moment she handed him the letter. “He’s reading it— and he’s laughing!”

She was confused.

“He whips out this letter. He’s like, ‘Read this, Monica. Don't worry. Just read it,’” she said.

Andrew’s letter explained that he was feeling called to become Catholic. He had all the answers he needed. God had even answered his prayer for a sign— or, in his case, several.

“I was like, ‘I’m so beyond frustrated, because nothing makes sense anymore. Nothing is clear. I can't figure it out,’” he recalled. “So I said, ‘I'm done trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do. You tell me.’ I said, ‘Give me a sign.’”

Then he went to the Adoration Chapel, where an older gentleman gave Andrew his first rosary— a black beaded rosary he had made by hand. It’s the rosary Andrew still uses.

The man joked that “your girlfriend said to give this to you,” but Monica knew nothing of it.

The couple then went to Mass, where Father Rick Filary was introducing catechumens who would be coming into the Catholic Church. This stood out, because it was not the Lenten season. Andrew knew without a doubt that he, too, was called to join the Catholic Church.

“I think God was just working through us during adoration,” Monica said.

The two married on Nov. 11, 2017.

Spending time in eucharistic adoration also inspired a longing to receive Jesus, Andrew said.

“I grew much more intense into wanting to go to a Holy Hour and enjoying my time there,” he said. “My unease happened at Mass because I couldn't receive the Eucharist.”

Father Rick Filary, pastor of Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish, welcomed Andrew into the Catholic Church on Feb. 11, 2018.

Praying as a family

Adoration continued to be a key part of their life together, and Andrew signed up for an evening hour at the chapel. The Adoration Chapel moved from St. Joseph to All Saints Parish, St. James Church, and they moved with it. Sometimes they would stop in for a few minutes while on a date, or while out with their son Levi, who was born Aug. 28, 2018.

“It gives us opportunity for both individual prayer and couple’s prayer— and both of those things are key,” Andrew said.

During their family Holy Hour, they pray together—Levi, 3, has learned the Divine Mercy Chaplet— and Levi likes to sit near the altar, close to Jesus, or walk around the chairs. Even though he doesn’t fully understand the meaning of eucharistic adoration, Monica and Andrew said he’s expressed wanting to go and enjoying it.

Other adorers encourage them and express joy at seeing a child in the chapel.

“It’s a good way to help feed your family (and) grow spiritually,” Monica said. “I know that Levi’s getting something from it. He’s feeling Christ’s love, his peace. There’s something touching Levi and helping him grow spiritually. I may not understand it fully. I don’t understand fully how (Jesus) has worked in my life for adoration. I just know that he has.”

Monica sees evidence of Christ working in their lives.

“I know that we’ve gone to Holy Hour and we’ve come back and we've been able to work through things better with each other or pray together better,” Monica said. “Things are brought to light in adoration. And I think that that is really true for us whenever we’re struggling.”

“I feel let down by you, but you’re still here.”

The Volls are no strangers to suffering. After a difficult pregnancy with Levi followed by challenges conceiving their next child, their daughter Felicity Rose was born prematurely at 23 weeks gestation on May 3, 2021. She lived outside the womb for one day.

The loss was shattering.

“If we didn't have, if we didn't have Christ, I can't imagine— I can’t imagine going through what we went through without our faith,” Monica said.

That isn’t to say they don’t feel upset with God as they work through their grief.

“I just was like, ‘(God,) I feel let down by you. But you're still there. And I know you're going to get me through this, because you're always there,’” she said.

That reliability of God’s presence, particularly in the quiet of the Adoration Chapel, provided both of them, but especially Andrew, the opportunity to process their grief.

“When I went, there was a time of vulnerability for me where I could work through those emotions,” he explained. Sometimes, he would simply sit and tell God how he felt, making notes of whatever comes to mind during his conversational prayer with the Lord. “I know (eucharistic adoration) was essential.”

One day, as he was in the chapel, Andrew said he was blessed with an image in his mind’s eye.

“I could mentally visualize Jesus at my right side, putting his hand on my shoulder. And for whatever reason, it was an adult version of Felicity that was putting her hand on my other shoulder,” he recalled.

Monica’s experience over the past year has been one of fidelity to God, and to their Holy Hour. After Felicity’s death, she struggled with spiritual dryness and panic attacks during prayer. And yet, she comes back to the “peace that surpasses all understanding,” as Philippians 4:6 puts it.

“Despite me even having those feelings and thoughts, like, there is still a peace that you feel amidst the turmoil in my mind I'm going through. There's still a presence— this peaceful presence that touches me in my heart that I can't explain. So I know it's real. Just by that,” she said.

Finding God in the quiet

Though their prayer time is different now, and sometimes it takes some encouragement to go, Monica never regrets the time spent in the chapel, whether during their scheduled Holy Hours or a quick visit.

“The opportunity to just stop in whenever, that's a blessing,” she said, adding that sometimes they come by for just a few minutes to pray and provide a spiritual “reset.”

“In the busy world that we're in right now … noise is everywhere,” Andrew said. “It's like a safe space for quiet, for me to be able to hear … God in the quiet whisper in the wind.”

The opportunity to see Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is also a powerful aspect of eucharistic adoration.

“It’s a visual reminder of how constantly Jesus is at our side,” Andrew said. “No matter what's going on— you know, we spent time in the hospital, we were away from anything and everything for a while— and as soon as we got back, there were our Holy Hours for us. There was Mass.”

There was, in other words, Jesus.

“You look up at that monstrance and it pierces your soul,” Andrew said.

After spending most of her 31 years praying regularly in eucharistic adoration, Monica has no doubt that it is critical for her spiritual health— even when she doesn’t feel like reciting formal prayers or reading Scripture or spiritual books.

“I'm helping my soul. I'm feeding it just by showing up,” she said. “And I think (God’s) happy with that. …  If you're going to go to adoration, you're going to grow, even if you just sit there and just be in his presence.”

“I think sometimes Jesus has to be happy with us just visiting him and sitting with him,” she continued. “I really think that sometimes Jesus says, ‘I know this is hard for you. And you just coming in, seeing me and being with me is enough.’ And that's all you need.”

The only 24/7 Adoration Chapel in the Diocese

Eucharistic adorers share experiences and encourage others to visit Jesus


Over the past almost 35 years, the Adoration Chapel in Bay City has been a sacred space, a place of calm and quiet in the midst of a chaotic world. There, the faithful approach Jesus, hidden in the Blessed Sacrament. Atop the altar, a golden monstrance holds asmall consecrated Host in which Jesus is truly present, waiting for us to visit him.

Eucharistic adoration outside of Mass is the devotion of praying before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, whether near a tabernacle containing consecrated Hosts from a previous Mass or before a Host displayed in a monstrance. A monstrance is a special vessel used for this purpose. This time of prayer may be a full hour, called a “holy hour,” or it can be a few minutes.

While many parishes throughout the Diocese of Saginaw offer times for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass, and some churches are open for people to pray before the tabernacle, there is also a special Adoration Chapel in Bay City, which is open 24/7. The Adoration Chapel began in August 1987 at St. Joseph Church in Bay City and moved to All Saints Parish, St. James Church in July 2018. 

The opportunity to spend time with Jesus “face-to-face” (under the appearance of bread in the Host) is what makes eucharistic adoration special, said Father José María Cabrera, pastor of All Saints Parish.

“We are so overwhelmed with information and devices, the chapel provides an oasis of quiet to sit in (Jesus’) presence,” he said. Father José has witnessed a great diversity of individuals coming to visit Jesus. 

“I have seen people praying the Stations of the Cross or their rosaries, doing spiritual reading or speaking directly to Jesus in the Host exposed in the monstrance. I have seen people very much at peace. I have seen people in great sadness and pouring their tears before Jesus,” he said. “I even saw a lady bringing her own vacuum and duster and cleaning ‘Jesus’ home’ at 1 a.m. I had a big smile when I saw that— so beautiful.”

Since the Adoration Chapel is open around the clock, the faithful can approach Jesus even at times when churches are closed. Father José recalled one instance when a family came there around 10 p.m. after learning a loved one had died by suicide.

The Adoration Chapel, like Mass, is one of the few places the faithful can encounter Jesus in the Host. Still, this private devotion is distinct from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass itself, when Catholics receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus in Holy Communion.

“Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament comes from the Mass and leads to the Mass,” said Father José. 

“The highest form of adoration is the Mass itself. Adoration is an extension of the Mass.”

He added that eucharistic adoration flows from the Catholic belief that the Real Presence of Jesus in the Host remains beyond the Mass itself. All are welcome to come and pray during exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at parishes throughout the Diocese or visit the Adoration Chapel in Bay City.

Eucharistic adoration and Adoration Chapel FAQs

Where is the Adoration Chapel?

The Adoration Chapel is at All Saints Parish, St. James Church, at 710 Columbus Ave. in Bay City. Enter the doors facing the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Monroe Street. The entrance and chapel are handicap accessible. The Adoration Chapel is supported by the six Bay City/Essexville parishes and is open to all.

When can I visit the Adoration Chapel? What about adoration at my parish?

You can visit the chapel at any time, day or night, to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Many parishes have eucharistic exposition and/or open-door hours for prayer. Please check with your parish for these times.

What do I do there?

You can pray silently in the way that is best for you:  sharing your heart with the Lord and allowing him to speak to you, praying the rosary and/or Divine Mercy Chaplet, writing in a prayer journal or reading the Bible or a spiritual book are all great places to start. Eucharistic adoration also gives you the opportunity for contemplative prayer, to simply gaze at Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and love him, and know his deep love for you. The chapel’s silence facilitates contemplative prayer. You can stop in for five minutes or stay for an hour or more. Most importantly, be patient as the Lord works on your heart.  

What is the purpose of making time for eucharistic adoration outside of Mass?

While we praise and adore God in many ways, eucharistic adoration outside of Mass allows us to specifically adore Jesus who is truly present in the Eucharist. Eucharistic adoration, whether at the Adoration Chapel or at your parish, allows us to pray in the Real Presence of the resurrected Christ. It’s like spending time with a friend or loved one. Sometimes you don’t even need to talk; you simply sit and enjoy the Lord’s presence.  

Praying before Jesus in the Eucharist gives graces to your soul!

“The time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time that you will spend on earth. Each moment that you spend with Jesus will deepen your union with him and make your soul everlastingly more glorious and beautiful in heaven and will help bring about an everlasting peace on earth.” 

–St. Teresa of Calcutta

“The chapel is a refuge.”

Patrick McFarland | Prince of Peace Parish

When Patrick McFarland looks back at his faith journey, he can see clearly when there was “a complete turnaround.” It was when he began stopping by the Adoration Chapel at St. Joseph Church, Bay City, nearly two decades ago ... for peaceful, quiet prayer time. 

“I was sitting with (my brother recently) and he said, ‘you know, you’ve changed in these last 10 years or so— a dramatic change in your life.’ He says, ‘I think the Holy Spirit’s sitting on your shoulder.’ I told him that any changes probably are from visitations to the Blessed Sacrament,” Patrick said.

What began as infrequent, brief visits during his lunch break grew to regular holy hours.

“The immediate feeling is your blood pressure goes down, your head clears, and you start to just communicate silently. … But as you begin to try to reform your life, things change,” he said. “I react differently with my family … My interaction with people is completely different. As I look at things that happen in life, I can clearly see divine intervention.”

Eucharistic adoration has also given Patrick a greater longing to receive the Eucharist at Mass.

“You’re in awe when you go in there and you sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It’s not like sitting at your kitchen table,” he said. “You develop a real sense of wonder and adoration for the Blessed Sacrament.”

After he’d been visiting the chapel for a while, Patrick signed up to commit to an hour of prayer each week. At first, he felt a bit intimidated by the length of time. 

“Within just a few visits, you realize that your hour goes by so fast,” he said. 

Patrick’s holy hour generally includes informal prayers, reading and meditating on a Bible verse and reciting the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet. Sometimes, he comes to pray for specific needs, such as a loved one’s illness. No matter what’s going on in life, Jesus is there in the chapel.

“The chapel is a refuge,” he said. “If you’ve got a problem, if you need help, if you need some counseling, there (the chapel) is.”

“You don’t have anxiety when you rest in the Lord.”

Elaine McPhail | Prince of Peace Parish

Elaine McPhail describes herself as someone who’s always “go-go-go.” The Adoration Chapel, however, provides her with the opportunity to pause, quiet her mind and spend some time with Jesus.

“That’s why I took the holy hour— to slow down, relax,rest and trust in (the Lord), because he has the answers to everything,” she said. “I would never give up my holy hours.”

Elaine has committed to three hours a week, including a midnight to 2 a.m. slot, which she particularly loves. She plans her day around that time with Christ, just as she plans her Sundays around Mass. During her time in the chapel, she prays the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet and litanies, reads Scripture or other spiritual books, and spends time simply looking at Jesus.

“He’s the King of Kings. Sometimes you don’t need to say (anything), he can read your soul. Just lay your heart on the altar, and he will take care of the rest,” she said. “Sometimes it’s like these graces pouring on you, and you have no idea where it’s coming from. … When you need it the most, it’s there.”

“You don’t have anxiety when you rest in the Lord,” she said.

Elaine said that along with frequently receiving the sacrament of Confession, praying in the Adoration Chapel has “made Communion even sweeter” by drawing her closer to Christ.

Eucharistic adoration is a powerful devotion, but you don’t have to commit to a whole hour right away, she said.

“At first, come in and rest in the Lord. You can just sit there. Don’t say a word … and just come in five or 10 minutes,” she said. After gradually increasing the time spent in the chapel, “You find yourself desiring to come. … (God) draws you closer and closer to himself.”

The spiritual benefits affect more than just the individual praying, too, she said.

“You go out with graces and your family’s blessed. I’ve just seen so many blessings poured out on my family,” she said. In the chapel, she prays not only for her family, but also for people all over the world whom she will never meet but knows they are family in Christ. She offers their needs, too. “It’s like an audience with God.”

“There’s power in the Eucharist.”

Janet Hamling | Prince of Peace Parish and Holy Family Parish

Janet Hamling has been bringing her needs to the Adoration Chapel ever since it opened in August 1987. In fact, she even met her husband there.

She was about 30 years old, her mother had recently passed away, and Janet was single yet longing to be married and have a family. Recent relationships hadn’t worked out, and she was frustrated.

“I just said, ‘Okay, Lord, you want me to meet somebody? You’re gonna have to bring him to this chapel,’” she recalled. “Three or four months later, my future  husband… came into the chapel.”
After seeing each other at the chapel and other church events for a while, he eventually introduced himself. They were married a year and a half later.

“God brought us together,” she said.

Coming to the Lord with her needs and petitions has continued throughout her life.

“You have to believe that [in the Host in the monstrance] is God. And no man can do what God can do,” she said, explaining that she will bring God the problems of others she has tried to help. “You can only take them so far, and then you just give it to God. I’d go sit there and cry my eyeballs out: ‘God, you took me to the end of the rope. I can’t do any more for these people.’ And God has given me answers.”

For example, a family member with mental illness was homeless, and after pouring her prayers out in the chapel, an unexpected housing solution fell into place.

“I’ve had many, many miracles,” she said. “You’ve got to believe that this is the true God that walked the earth and died on the cross. He’s there.”

Janet has relied on her holy hours through marriage and homeschooling her children. She also brought her children to the chapel, where they would spend 10 minutes when they were young.

Now, she goes to the Adoration Chapel whenever she can, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

“That’s where I get my strength. I’ll tell you, there’s power in the Eucharist,” she said.

Janet sees the Eucharist as continuing nourishment for the soul, and adoration is a way to receive that nourishment. It’s also a way to get to know God. Just as a person wants to spend time with someone they love—in order to come to know that person more—we should want to spend time with God to grow closer to him, she said.

“Honestly, it’s simple,” she said. “Love is simple.”