Members of the two Hot Springs parishes now have a perpetual adoration chapel in the center of the city where they can take time to visit the Blessed Sacrament.
The new chapel, located adjacent to St. John the Baptist Church, was consecrated by Bishop Anthony B. Taylor Oct. 19, with about 30 members of St. John and St. Mary of the Springs Church attending.
The chapel was officially opened on All Saints Day, Nov. 1, following a bilingual Mass at St. John Church, with Father Eliseo Noel Njopmo, associate pastor of St. John Church, leading a procession carrying the Eucharist in a monstrance from the church to the new chapel. Worshipers were able to spend time in the chapel.
After his homily, Father George Sanders, St. John Church pastor, blessed the coordinating team at the altar. The team is Judy Vance, Filomena Vasquez, Joseph Cenac, Sandra Cenac, Dany Elser, Armando Cadena, Alejandro Desidero and Guadalupe Alvarez.
Although the chapel is located at St. John parish, members of St. Mary contributed to its creation, Father Sanders said.
At least four pastors of St. John Church, going back to the late Father James P. West, had thoughts of opening an adoration chapel in the center of town to replace the adoration chapel at CHI St. Vincent Hospital. Many wanted a more centralized location with easier access, said Father Ravi Rayappa Gudipalli, who served as St. John’s pastor for three months in 2019 before being named pastor of St. Mary Church.
“The people really asked for it. They said it was such a distance for them to walk at the hospital,” Father Gudipalli said. “I was thinking about it when Father George came to St. John’s, and I told him about the need for the chapel, and he said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Father Sanders said the plan fell together when Father Njopmo was assigned as associate pastor in 2020. He is a member of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist, an order based in St. Maximin, France, promoting perpetual adoration. He said Father Njopmo has taken the lead in organizing the coordinating team who will staff the chapel.
“The parishioners are invited to the adoration chapel. There are eight people taking care of services, Father Njopmo said.
The chapel is located in the building that was once the St. John School cafeteria and later converted to a parish hall. This year, the interior was renovated to house the parish offices and Eucharistic adoration chapel. The offices were moved from the rectory to give the priests who live in the building more space and privacy.
“It is amazing that a building that once fed our children is a place where we share Christ at his table,” Father Sanders said.
The new chapel is a mixture of old and new that includes history from St. Mary and St. John parishes, but also from the old St. Joseph Hospital. It includes contributions from all members of the Hot Springs Catholic community.
The door leading into the chapel is a restored door from St. Mary Church. The crucifix was donated by the Sisters of Mercy, who celebrate 100 years in Hot Springs this year. The Hispanic community donated the altar, while parishioners donated the new pews and stained-glass windows.
In the left corner, the Our Lady of La Vang statue represents the Vietnamese parishioners of both churches. On the other side of the altar is a solid marble and brass sanctuary lamp that was in the chapel at St. Joseph Hospital.
“The chapel represented a little bit of St. John’s and St. Mary’s,” Father Sanders said.
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