Baran-Unland: Why did St. Mary Immaculate want to host this event for the Diocese of Joliet?
Rostollan: This year, St. Mary Immaculate has decided to celebrate a Year of the Eucharist, which we are calling Summit. The purpose of the year is to help us focus more on the central part of our Mass, the celebration of the Eucharist, Christ's sacrifice made present in the body and blood every single Sunday. The 177 Project fit perfectly into this vision for our year and immediately upon hearing about it, I knew it was something that we wanted for our parish. We were the first parish to approach the organization from the Joliet Diocese so we were able to host the event.
Baran-Unland: How did you hear about it?
Rostollan: I am part of a youth ministers group on Facebook and someone posted in there.
Baran-Unland: Please give an overview of what people can expect for the evening.
Rostollan: The evening begins with praying the rosary, followed by an hour of Eucharistic adoration which will include a variety of music (some with words, some in the background quietly). Then there will be a short intermission followed by an hour-long concert. We will also have a number of priests available to hear confessions throughout the night.
Baran-Unland: Why is awareness and devotion to Eucharistic adoration important?
Rostollan: Eucharistic adoration is something that still sounds weird to some Catholics. The heart of it comes to our belief that during Mass, the bread and the wine fully change into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Thus, when someone comes to Eucharistic adoration, they are not praying to some symbol of Christ or using their imagination, but they are literally praying in the very presence of Jesus, he is there physically present in the room. Eucharistic adoration allows us to come face to face with Jesus Christ and in my experience, events like the 177 Project, evoke powerful experiences for those who attend. I have literally seen people's lives transformed through an hour or two in the presence of Christ. People may at times struggle to understand how what looks like a piece of bread is actually the living Christ, but those who have a devotion to Eucharistic adoration or have experienced it on a retreat, can testify that there is a power and a peace that comes with such an intimate personal encounter with our Lord.
Baran-Unland: How does this bring people closer to God?
Rostollan: The simple answer is that people are literally face to face with Jesus Christ. Typically events like this have been offered at youth rallies or young adult conferences. They are extremely powerful and often the highlight of these events for the young people. But the 177 Project wanted to make this sort of event available to all people because of the ways in which it can move people. It is hard to describe what happens at one of these, but the combination of Christ in the Eucharist, prayer, community, and music draws you to a deeper level of prayer. It creates an environment which helps you to bring forth any joy or sorrow that you might be feeling. It brings transformation to lives which perhaps feel broken. It brings peace and clarity.