Fr Antoine Thomas leading the Eucharistic Adoration for Children at Sacred Heart Cathedral

By Agnes Chai

June 5 2020

What do you want for your children? To be slaves of technology? Would you give them gadgets to know God or gadgets to doom their soul?

Little did some 150 parents/adults expect to be provoked by such soul-searching questions when they decided to attend a Children Eucharistic Adoration workshop.

Fr Antoine Thomas, a priest of the Community of St John, was in Kota Kinabalu by the providential care of God to conduct a Children Eucharistic Adoration workshop at Sacred Heart Cathedral parish Nov 22-24 2019.

He was on a mission to help the children to discover the true loving Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. He was on a mission to fire up parents/teachers/religious educators/pastors to create the awareness of the huge discrepancy between the thousands going to Mass every Sunday and the lesser percentage taking time to visit Jesus during the week in Eucharistic adoration.

The urgency was most keenly felt as Fr Antoine highlighted the teachings and demands of Mother Church: “I urge priests, religious and lay people to continue and redouble their efforts to teach the younger generations the meaning and value of Eucharistic adoration and devotion. How will young people be able to know the Lord if they are not introduced to the mystery of His presence?” (St John Paul II, 28 May 1996)

Of himself, Fr Antoine underscored: “I am driven to give people the means to develop this ministry of making Jesus hidden in the Tabernacle known and loved particularly by children, to build a new generation of children in love with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

For by so doing, children will be led to foster a personal friendship with Jesus, learn to bond with Jesus, develop a deeper desire to pray, are more attentive at Mass and have an unshakeable faith in the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Fr Antoine lifting up the Blessed Sacrament for the children

Fr. Antoine vouchsafed “Eucharistic adoration is the secret for family unity!” and it gets even better “Your children will be able to withstand the tsunami of temptations faced by them as they grow up if they start from a young age knowing and encountering Christ through Adoration.”

The benefits are numerous, both for the children and their families, says Fr Antoine: 1) Children discover that the Host is actually the person of Jesus, mysteriously hidden; 2) They develop a greater interest in the mysteries of our Faith and the liturgy of the Mass; 3) They understand the relationship between the gift of the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus and His sacrifice on the Cross out of love for mankind; 4) They become much more aware of the various degrees of sin and seem very eager to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) often; and 5) Families accompanying their children witness a growing desire for peace and forgiveness within the family.

To this end, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI strongly advocates Eucharistic adoration for children preparing for First Holy Communion “I also recommend that in their catechetical training, and especially in their preparation for First Holy Communion, children be taught the meaning and the beauty of spending time with Jesus, and helped to cultivate a sense of awe before His presence in the Eucharist.” – (Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Cantatis 13 March 2007)

The impassioned advocate of Eucharistic Adoration also cautioned of “the danger of transmitting only knowledge during catechism classes. If so, there is no vital bond between Jesus and the soul of the child. Instead we must lead the children to develop a friendship with Jesus by spending time with Him in his Eucharistic presence. This is what is missing in Catholic Education. It is probably the reason why so many children lose interest in the Church after they receive the sacrament of Confirmation.”

Eucharistic Adoration in parishes and during school time should be a vital part of Catholic education. What can we do as parents, parishes and schools to foster Children Eucharistic Adoration (children’s Holy Hour)?

Foremost is awareness. Fr Antoine invited participants of the workshop to visit the website www.childrenofhope.nz for more information, references and about starting an Adoration ministry for children in your parish.

A video on the mission in KK has been realized and you can watch it at https://youtu.be/L58N2InNHuk

Included on the last day of the KK workshop was a two-hour session conducted by Fr Antoine for the SHC children, which was composed of an explanation of Mass symbols, followed by Adoration.

After her first Holy Hour (conducted by Fr Antoine), Angelic Star Baxcdy, 9, said “It was the first time and kind of funny to hear that Jesus has got seven names! And to hear Father said that we do not receive the dead body of Jesus, but the living body of Jesus at Holy Communion.”

Meanwhile, for the parishioners of Sacred Heart Cathedral parish, the existing Children Eucharistic Adoration Ministry launched in 2012 has been in line with Fr Antoine’s Mission.

In 2019 the Children Eucharistic Adoration has been incorporated into the Sunday School program to prepare candidates for First Holy Communion.

The Adoration Ministry is considering to expand the program to teenagers preparing for Confirmation in the following year.

Parish families are urged to join hands to develop the awareness in their children that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, and to foster faith in the family by coming regularly with them to adore Jesus.