Everyone kneels as Nico Quintos, St. Philip’s parochial vicar, leads Eucharistic adoration.
Jacinta Acosta, 5, and her sister, Talitha, 2, have a favorite way of spending time with Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic adoration — kneeling on the floor and coloring pages from a coloring book.
The girls learned this unconventional worship method at the first-ever Holy Half Hour at St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Clifton on April 21. That afternoon, 25 children and their parents or guardians experienced 30 minutes of Eucharistic adoration together as a family. It’s an opportunity they often miss because parents fear their children’s fidgety behavior during a 60-minute holy hour. The Acosta sisters learned to feel comfortable in Jesus’ real presence in the exposed Host by coloring, which held their short, kid-sized attention spans.
In a corner of Marian Hall in the Molloy Center of St. Philip’s, the Holy Half Hour held the interest of the children — from toddlers to pre-teens — with activities to deepen their devotion to Jesus in adoration. They sang contemporary and traditional hymns and had the opportunity to kneel in prayer — and at times even stand — before the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance on a small table in front of them. Worshippers listened to talks on the Eucharist by Father Nico Quintos, St. Philip’s parochial vicar, who led adoration.
“It was fun. Adoration is a special time to spend with Jesus,” said Rafa Cuellar, 8, who soon after received his first Holy Communion at St. Philip’s. He was coloring in his seat beside his mother, Mima, and sister, Emilia, 10. “[Through adoration], God tells us he loves us.”
The children colored in pages that contained religious images, including those of a young boy praying before the Blessed Sacrament. Tyrone Acosta, the father of Jacinta and Talitha, played acoustic guitar and led the congregation in songs such as “Oh Saving Victim” and “Holy Spirit.” During quiet time, some parents or guardians brought up their children to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Mima Cuellar went up with Rafa.
“I told Rafa he could talk to Jesus in his heart,” Mima Cuellar said. “This is a good way to expose children to adoration and help them understand it from a personal perspective.”
Dressed in his vestments, Father Quintos started Holy Half Hour by telling the children that when the priest prays over the communion wafers at Mass, they become Jesus.
“Spend time with Jesus in his presence in the Eucharist. You can pray. You can make your coloring beautiful so you can offer it to Jesus as you do it,” Father Quintos said.
Later, he told the story of Jesus feeding the multitude with children answering questions he posed.
“What do you want — a toy or clothes? All those things — while good — cannot satisfy our hungry hearts. Only this bread — only Jesus — can do that,” Father Quintos said.
The Holy Half Hour was devised by Father Quintos and Tyrone Acosta and his wife Melissa, who sometimes have to handle their fidgety daughters at Mass.
“We wanted parents to adore Jesus with their kids without worrying about it. We wanted them to feel comfortable. At adoration, kids can say anything they want to Jesus,” Melissa Acosta said.
The next Holy Half Hour will be held tomorrow, Friday, May 19, at 5:30 p.m. in the Molloy Center.
Information: Father Quintos at 973-779-6200.