By Robert Hiini
Whether they creep out in the black of morning or in the heat of the day, adorers at the Sacred Heart Chapel in Highgate were congratulated recently at a private gathering for clocking up six years or 52,560 hours of perpetual adoration at the site.
The chapel is one of five perpetual adoration sites in the country, four of which are in Perth – Beaconsfield, Highgate, Bassendean and Glendalough – and one in Deer Park, Melbourne.
Each site has a parish-based coordinator with around 250 adorers of varying ages, often from surrounding parishes, who make sure that Christ is never left alone when exposed on the altar.
Fr Doug Harris, parish priest of Glendalough, congratulated the adorers for their dedication and persistence. He is leading the charge to promote perpetual adoration throughout Perth and beyond and has been ever since he was ordained a diocesan priest in 2000.
On July 18 2006, Fr Doug upped-the-ante by founding the Apostles of Perpetual Adoration, a religious community whose specific mission is to encourage and train people throughout Australia in the spiritual “art” of Eucharistic adoration as well as the practical necessities of getting enough people for a roster.
He says that from the time he began discerning his calling to be a priest in 1986, his spirituality has always been Eucharistic in character.
"I knew in my heart that if I had a parish I would have lots of Eucharistic adoration because of the fruits it has borne in my own life," Fr Doug says.
In the early 1990s he heard about two Australian men from Perth with similar proclivities.
Ron Coleman and Patrick Barry were studying for the priesthood in The Philippines with the Missionary Society of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.
In December 1992, Fr Doug went to stay with them to further discern his priestly calling, formally entering studies with the order in May 1993.
Eventually, Fr Martin Lucia, the order’s superior, said that he felt it was God’s design that Fr Doug return to Perth to begin a religious congregation to promote perpetual adoration locally.
With the full support of Archishop Hickey, Fr Doug entered St Charles Seminary in 1997 and was ordained a diocesan priest on June 30, 2000.
After a two-and-a-half year stint working as an assistant priest in the cathedral, Fr Doug took up the reins of Parish Priest in Glendalough where he still ministers today.
For the past three years, Fr Doug has also made several trips to Indonesia to give priest retreats and give talks in conferences, often with his good friend and priestly comrade, Fr Hugh Thomas, a Redemptorist from his order’s North Perth monastery. Altogether, Fr Doug has helped seven parishes start perpetual adoration in Indonesia through the provision of spiritual formation and practical training and remains enthusiastic and open to requests for assistance in Australia.
To date, Fr Doug’s Apostles of Perpetual Adoration have one other religious member, Fr Joseph Asnaban, originally a diocesan priest on the Indonesian Island of Flores.
Fr Doug says that holding down two positions – as Parish Priest and as the leader of a fledgling religious congregation – is more than occasionally draining but he remains committed to promoting what he says is one of the most beneficial and necessary spiritual practises for Christians today.
“In all hours of the day people come to adoration and there’s God Himself,” Fr Doug says.
“A lot of people tell me it’s the best hour in their week.”
Fr Doug Harris may be contacted on 9444 6131 or firstname.lastname@example.org