.- Catholics in the Eternal City are holding an all-night Eucharistic vigil, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., praying that U.S. voters help their country by electing politicians who will support Christian values.
“We’re praying that the Holy Spirit guide those who vote, especially all Catholics and people of good will,” said Father Frederick Gruber, 28, who is studying for his license in sacred theology at the Marianum. “We’re praying that life be protected, that the leaders elected will really help our country at all levels of government.”
The vigil, which had 18 people attending its first hour, is being held in Rome’s San Lorenzo parish.
The event was organized by the San Lorenzo Center, an international center for young Catholics that hosts a variety of faith and fellowship activities, much like a vibrant Newman Center in America. The idea for the vigil came from Ann Schneible, 28, a freelance journalist and the center’s former communications director.
“It was an opportunity to pray that God’s will happens in our country, and to entrust our country to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament,” she said, noting that 19 Christendom College students agreed to take one-hour shifts for the full 12 hours.
The center is attached to the Church of San Lorenzo, where Fr. Gruber had just finished celebrating Mass in English.
Most of the college-age mass-goers were not American. Even so, about 15 signed up afterward for adoration – some at 7 p.m., others through the night and early morning.
“I think Americans need as many prayers as they can get,” said 23-year-old Christian Iligan of Sydney, Australia, who is studying in Rome at the Emmanuel School of Mission, a lay evangelism program. “Looking at their recent history, they need people to lead them in the right direction – leaders who value life and can lead the country in a Christian direction. In other words, not Obama!”
One of the American mass-goers, Robert Prybyla, 23, is friends with many of those international English-speakers who signed up for adoration.
“They feel united by our Catholic faith, and they’re aware of the importance of this election, all the moral issues at stake,” said the native of Round Rock, Texas. “We need all the graces we can poured upon our country, and spending an hour before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is about the best way we can do that.”
Prybyla and three others are taking the 2 a.m. shift.
One American who is waiting at least until dawn to pull her watch is Marie Nuar, 32, of Anchorage, Alaska.
“You need graces for everything, and you can definitely use them for elections,” she said, putting a big batch of her homemade chocolate chip cookies on a snack table in the center for hungry adorers.
“The U.S. has, or at least had, led the world. So in many ways wherever we go, they go,” Nuar said, adding that she believes the world will follow America’s lead, even if it’s not the best path.