Fr. Nathan Reesman in the new Eucharistic Adoration Chapel at St. Frances Cabrini in West Bend. (Submitted photo)

St. Frances Cabrini Parish is the new place for Catholics in the West Bend area for Eucharistic Adoration and Perpetual Adoration.

The parish recently opened its new Eucharistic Adoration Chapel after many months of work.

Until recently, Holy Angels Parish utilized space in their church for Eucharistic Adoration during the week. It wasn’t ideal as, on the weekends, the area served as the crying room for families during Mass.  The adoration space came about as Holy Angels was the original supporting parish for multi-day Eucharistic Exposition and Adoration in West Bend, said Fr. Nathan Reesman, who serves as the shared pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish and St. Frances Cabrini Parish, both in West Bend.

“As time passed, the other area parishes joined together to support the chapel, though its location remained in the same space at Holy Angels. In the summer of 2021, the multi-parish committee that runs the chapel talked with Fr. (Howard) Haase at Holy Angels and me about the possibility of relocating it so that the space could be a truly appropriate and dedicated space only for this type of prayer,” Fr. Reesman said. “We realized that on the Holy Angels campus there were no spaces available that fit all the needs, so the decision was made to relocate it to St. Frances Cabrini to what was at the time our main sacristy.  Cabrini made the decision to move the sacristy and remodel that space to make it into the new area chapel.”

Though the adoration chapel opened June 5, Pentecost Sunday, it was only partially completed due to several setbacks. According to Fr. Reesman, they had significant challenges obtaining materials and freeing up time for their main contractor to do the work.

“We ran into difficulties right away with the existing mechanicals for HVAC in the space, and we had to remove all of that and install a new system.  Included in the zone of the building that we remodeled for this was also the area for the existing confessionals, which we also decided to redo, and all that detail work added a lot of time,” he said. “The whole project took 14 months.”

To fund the adoration chapel, the parish held a spaghetti dinner and received donations from their existing network of adorers. Fr. Reesman said that they asked them to limit their donations to a lower dollar amount, as they didn’t want this to interfere with the Love One Another Campaigns that both Holy Angels and St. Frances Cabrini were about to launch.

“This project was not included in that campaign,” said Fr. Reesman. “As time passed, we experienced a groundswell of donor support for the project and we received several memorials for it as well, along with some dedicated contributions toward the expenses from Holy Angels, St. Mary’s Immaculate Conception, Holy Trinity in Kewaskum and St. Michael parishes.  All of that helped with our ongoing expenses.  The remaining balance on the work that the donations have not paid for has been assumed by St. Frances Cabrini.”

The parish closed the chapel Nov. 13 for three weeks to complete the interior art and detail work. The chapel re-opened Dec. 4 and the work is currently 95 percent complete. The parishioners are grateful and happy for the space to pray.

“Everyone loves it. It is such a beautiful space,” said Fr. Reesman. “For those who came to Eucharistic Exposition in the earlier years at Holy Angels, they had a deep love and appreciation for that former space; however, they can see now how this new location has been a needed improvement in a variety of important ways.”

Some of the advantages of this sacred space include entries that are all at grade and close to the main exterior doors of the church. An after-hours lock system is more secure and easier for the adorers to utilize so their prayer is not interrupted by the change of shifts in the chapel.

“Most important is the fact that this can now be a truly dedicated space for this type of prayer with a permanent altar, reverent artwork and a location in the church building that allows exposition and adoration to occur appropriately while Masses are going on in the building,” said Fr. Reesman. “The prior location needed to be shut down every time there was a Mass, which hindered its potential for growth.  Now the chapel can run uninterrupted all week, 24 hours a day, and in the future, it can even run through the weekends if we take on enough committed adorers.”

Currently, the adoration chapel is filled with at least one registered adorer, but Fr. Reesman said the goal is to have at least two dedicated adorers for every hour of the day it is open. This exposition chapel is large and able to accommodate 22 adorers at once. They hope to keep it as full as they can.

“I was able to witness first-hand at my first parish assignment at St. Mary’s Visitation in Elm Grove just how fruitful and powerful a perpetual adoration and exposition chapel can be for an area and a community,” he said.  “I have always been an ardent promoter and supporter of it as a means for us as Catholics to grow in our love for the Blessed Sacrament. Relocating this chapel here in West Bend was the right and essential move to keep this prayer ministry strong here in our area and I am so glad that we all worked so hard to get this accomplished.”

The blessing of the new chapel has not been scheduled yet, but Fr. Reesman said they are hoping to have it soon.