PHOENIX – Easing the suffering of the impoverished, preservation of life, an end to racism and more men and women entering religious service.

These were a sample of the petitions lifted up to God during a night of intimacy with Jesus Christ through His precious Body and Blood.

An all-night Adoration at St. Mary’s Basilica in downtown Phoenix, co-hosted by the Diocese of Phoenix allowed participants to pray before the Blessed Sacrament for God’s intervention, guidance and mercy across more than a half dozen areas of request, which also included the Filipino and Vietnamese communities, and for the faithful to be bold in sharing God’s message of redemption through His Son’s death and Resurrection.

Participants in The Road to Emmaus: A Eucharistic Encounter heard homilies, sang hymns, prayed and listened to Scripture readings during the nearly 16 hours, which lasted from 5 p.m. Saturday through Sunday’s 7a.m. Mass.

The event took participants into Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday after Easter. On this day, the faithful celebrate God’s mercy and love manifested in His Passion, death and Resurrection and communicated through the Eucharist.

While God is both omnipresent and omniscient — meaning we can pray to Him anytime, anywhere — Adoration allows worshippers to connect in a unique way with Jesus — in body, blood, soul, and divinity — through the Eucharist.

“It is in the Eucharist that we can see Jesus, face-to-face, in full splendor,” explained Marina Salvador-Velazquez, the Diocese of Phoenix’s manager of the Office of Respect Life Ministries, who led the 3 a.m. Holy Hour.

“We can contemplate His complete body and blood. We may not see Him with physical eyes, but with our spiritual eyes of faith. It cannot be explained, but He is there.”

The event’s name, The Road to Emmaus, was taken from St. Luke’s Gospel, (Ch 24: 13-35) in which the writer tells of two disciples who are joined by the Risen Christ while walking along on Easter Sunday. It describes how Jesus opens the Scriptures to the at-first unsuspecting pair, who later realize it is the LORD when He breaks bread before them.


Bishop John Dolan began the evening Saturday by celebrating 5 p.m. Mass. Noting its timing, as hundreds of sports fans from across the country were gathered in Phoenix for college basketball’s NCAA Final Four men’s championship, the bishop referred to those fans in the neighborhood, watching the games on giant-screen televisions.

He called it a joy to be with the faithful for the all-night adoration.

“In the busyness of life; Christ is here; ‘hidden’ in plain sight. Our focus these next two days is on encountering the living Christ, especially in the Eucharist.”

After Communion, the consecrated host inside the monstrance was placed on the altar, The bishop, joined by priests and other clergy, knelt before the Blessed Sacrament, leading the congregation in a period of Exposition.

Fr. Frankie Cicero, founder of a Catholic evangelistic ministry and the parochial vicar at St. Timothy Parish in Mesa, then delivered a Eucharistic exhortation, reminding worshippers why they came.

“Bringing every single person into a deep and personal relationship with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit” –– permeated Fr. Frankie’s message.

Often waving his arms for emphasis, the onetime bartender who admittedly came to his conversion having much of what the world offers but feeling lonely and broken, urged worshippers to allow God to transform their hearts and lives. Once filled, he said they must share God’s free gift of Eternal Life through Jesus, sometimes stepping out of their comfort zone to do so.

“That’s what this whole event is about. We want to get together as a body and get filled with the Spirit, with the gift of our LORD, Jesus, not so we can just stay here,” he said.
“Every single person needs Jesus. Every single moment of our lives is an opportunity to break our heart open and reveal to people who Jesus is.”


The exhortation flowed right into an hour of bilingual praise and worship.

Accompanied by a soft acoustic guitar, the songs ushered in a series of individual holy hours dedicated to the event’s themes.

The Holy Cross priests, represented by Fr. David Halm, CSC, pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Goodyear, led the Hour for the Impoverished.

St. John Vianney is among the parishes that hold an individual all-night adoration, on the first Friday of every month.

At 10 p.m., the Crosier Fathers and Brothers led an hour of Taize (pronounciations vary, but common ones include tah-ZAY and teh-ZAY) worship.

Named for an ecumenical community in rural southern France, Taize is a soft, meditative form of candlelight worship including contemplative hymns with and without words and Scripture readings designed to encourage dwelling with Christ’s presence.

At midnight, the focus turned to vocations.

Fr. John Nahrgang, joined Vocations Director, Fr. Kurt Perera.

The Holy Hour Against Racism was led by Fr. Andrew McNair, pastor of St. Josephine Bakhita Mission Parish and leader of the Diocese Office of Black Catholic Ministry.

“I’m so happy the bishop (did) this, not only to pray for this (ending racism), but the needs of the Diocese,” Fr. McNair said prior to the event.

The hour included prayers asking God for healing, unity and the eradication of the sin of racism.

“At end of the day, racism is not only acts against one another but systemic reality, incorporated into our institutions, such as health care, education, employment, law enforcement, and financial institutions,” he explained.

Fr. McNair encouraged Catholics and those under formation to learn and practice the Church’s social teachings on race.

“We have a well-developed social doctrine that is a treasure of the Church, and parishes in some shape and form (should) be incorporating them into their faith-formation program.”

Another broad social arena addressed during the Adoration was the dignity of human life.

From conception to natural death, Salvador-Velazquez said that society honors God by respecting all forms of human life.

“We come to pray for forgiveness and healing for all those wounded by abortion; to ask for peace for those facing death and terminal illness; and for an increase in virtue and an intentional desire to grow in holiness within the Church. We need people on fire for the LORD to promote, advocate and live a culture of life to transform our Church and communities,” she stated.


But knowing the truth is only part of the battle.

To be effective, Salvador-Velazuez said one must start in prayer.

“We need to seek to be in a closer relationship with God, as He will give us the strength, wisdom, and all the divine graces necessary for our mission. We must be centered in Christ to fight the culture of death. This is how life wins. This is how Jesus fought temptation and conquered death.”

Finding a closer walk with Jesus involves the Holy Spirit, opening one’s eyes and heart to His truth.

During his opening Mass Homily, St. Mary’s Dcn. Billy Chavira noted that the Risen Jesus came to the Apostles, revealing Himself to them as they were locked in the Upper Room in the days after His Crucifixion. Dcn. Chavira said Jesus did not come to interrogate them but to show Himself to them and love them and exhort them to share that love with the world.

“He didn’t ask them any questions (such as), ‘Why did you desert me?’ or ‘Why did you deny me?’” Chavira said. “He said ‘peace.’ In their loneliness and isolation, He meets them.

He meets (the two disciples) on the way to Emmaus. (And) He wants to meet us in the same way.”

St. Mary’s parishioner Jim Kossler, who attended the opening Mass with his wife, Theresa, said the event was a good way to promote an aspect of the faith many, including himself, do not hear much about, and perhaps do not pay enough attention to.

“That’s on me,” he said, adding the relationship is clear between being in communion with God thru the Eucharist and in communion with one another as Christ’s disciples.

“Those three go together: going to Communion, being in communion, community — That’s where we find God,” he said.

Fr. McNair called the all-night adoration “a wonderful initiative.”

“I’m hoping it will be a powerful experience for so many in the Diocese,” he said.

Read Joyce Coronel’s 2018 story on Fr. Frankie Cicero here:

Link to Facebook Photo Gallery