D. Toowoomba: the power of prayer and adoration of the Bl. Sacrament

From CNA about the troubled Diocese of Toowoomba, whence Bp. William Morris was removed for his heterodoxy ideas and less than optimal governance. A liberal tumult has been raised since and Bp. Morris has become a cause célèbre.

In Toowoomba, a traditional approach is needed.  Some tried it.  Here’s what happened and what they have to say about it.

Catholics in Toowoomba see prayers answered through adoration

By David Kerr

Mavis Power says the turning point for the troubled Diocese of Toowoomba in Australia was Oct. 13, 2000, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. That was the day that Eucharistic adoration began at the heart of Toowoomba.
Power and others believe that Eucharistic devotion helped eventually lead to the ouster of the diocese’s Bishop Bill Morris. He was removed from office May 2 by Pope Benedict XVI, reportedly for his continued disregard for Catholic Church teaching during his 18 years as bishop.
“The power of prayer is the biggest factor in any change that’s occurred, really. I see a lot of power in adoration. It’s the best prayer outside the Mass and, of course, it flows from the Mass,” says Power, a mother of five who works with disabled people.
Power asked for permission to hold the adoration in the chapel of a former monastery that was turned into the diocesan office.
The decision to allow it was all the more surprising since it came from the man who encouraged people to call him “Bishop Bill.” Until then the bishop had been largely unsupportive of efforts to restore traditional Catholic devotional practices in his diocese.
Was Power surprised Bishop Morris allowed adoration?
“No. Everyone else was surprised. But we’d been praying, and I’d put all my trust in God,” she told EWTN News. “In fact, I got a lovely letter back from the bishop. Everybody was saying to me that he was only being nice because he was in trouble politically. But I don’t think so. I think he was being genuine.”
One of those also praying with Power – who asked not to be named – remembers the time well. [I’ll bet you a … a … bag of frozen peas that when she made the requests, she was polite and respectfull to the bishops]
“Mavis would never say this, but she’s a very holy woman. She came to us one day and told us to pray a novena as she was going to ask the bishop for Eucharistic adoration. We all said, ‘no way. He’ll never allow it.’ But ask she did and, incredibly, ‘yes’ was the answer.”  [Are you having trouble where you are getting a priest or bishop to listen to your legitimate aspirations?]
So for the past 11 years a group of Toowoomban Catholics have kept a prayerful vigil before the Blessed Sacrament.
Power says that one of their foremost petitions was “praying for the bishop’s conversion.”
“Not to get rid of him, just for his conversion,” she explained. And we also prayed for the Church in general, priests and families who’d left the Church.
[And then there is the Bux Protocol.]
“We always understood the power of prayer because we were a tiny minority in the diocese. So the only power we had was the power of prayer,” adds Powers’ friend. “We had to trust in God. What chance otherwise did we have, up against the powers-that-be and the establishment?”
Over those years the prayers of this committed group have yielded, they firmly believe, grace after grace.
“We used to have a bookshop in the building run by nuns. It was very New Age,” says Power, recounting just one such example. “I even remember my brother-in-law going in to ask for a book on Our Lady of Fatima. The nuns told him that Fatima had been discredited and directed him towards books on feminism instead.”
They’ve now gone out of business and a wonderful new bookshop – St. Paul’s Press – has opened selling lots of beautiful books. All Catholic. All good.
The prayers continue for renewal in Toowoomba, which spans more than 188,000 square miles and has a Catholic population of roughly 66,000 served by 35 parishes. [Any vocations?]
Pope Benedict has appointed Bishop Brian Finnegan of Brisbane as administrator of the diocese until a new bishop can be found.
In the meantime, Power and her friends they continue to pray for their departed and for Bishop Morris. As Power’s friend puts it:
“We’ve always been praying for the bishop – as people we were always charitable towards him – and so we’re still praying for him. At the end of the day he’s a soul, and nobody wants to see him lost.

If I had the opportunity to do so, I would ask these good people to pray for the National Catholic Reporter.

On the other hand, if I had the opportunity to do so, I would ask these good people to pray for me.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. There is certainly power in Eucharistic adoration. I have felt it in my own life. And it gives me reason to hope for my local church. I live at the heart of a really nutty diocese. People behave in church as though they are at a football stadium, liturgy is substandard, people in high places dissent from Catholic doctrine, and Mass in the Extraordinary Form is not to be had within 150 miles. And yet, there are not one, not two, but three parishes that have perpetual adoration, all within about 15 miles of where I live. The weirdest and most schizophrenic parish in town has regular weekly adoration, and periodically has 40 Hours devotions, thanks to the perseverance of a faithful few. And now, after years of experimenting as a “priestless parish,” they will finally have a resident pastor again.

    By the way, I’d like to put in a plug for the little-known but awesome St. Antoninus of Florence, the great reforming Dominican archbishop of the 15th century who deep-cleaned the archdiocese of Florence. Pray for his intercession to cure institutional disorders.

  2. Hugh says:

    Wonderful story. Thanks.

    I know of a family in New Zealand who about 20 years back systematically started praying for the conversion of every family in their street. When I met them they had just one family to go …

  3. Liz says:

    This is a wonderful reminder of the power of prayer and not to get discouraged when one doesn’t get immediate results.

  4. dinsdale says:

    A wonderful story, and also quite humbling. These good people set a splendid example that many of us would do well to follow.

  5. AnAmericanMother says:

    Amen. These folks are the best kind of example for us ordinary lay-folk.

  6. Mundabor says:

    So the nun’s shop went out of business, uh?

    Feminism is not what it used to be…


  7. Patti Day says:

    Lord Jesus,

    Give me patience and humility, and the grace to pray for those I would rather not.

  8. Beau says:

    “On the other hand, if I had the opportunity to do so, I would ask these good people to pray for me.”

    You’ve got people praying for you every day Father ;)

  9. JKnott says:

    True, beautiful, and very inspiring!
    Thank you Father for bringing these good Catholic brothers and sisters to our attention for their grace and fine example.
    Now lets all pray for Obama

  10. oldCatholigirl says:

    I know personally of a parish in Michigan where the (popular but liberal) pastor was hostile when first approached about Perpetual Adoration. Our little (dare I say it) Regnum Christi group kept praying, and when our representative (a sweet, saintly woman–not me) approached him a week later, he had done a complete turnaround. Twelve plus years later, it is still going strong.
    God bless you, Father Z. Of course you’re being prayed for, but when you “stick your head above the fence” as courageously as you do, you’re bound to be sniped at a lot, too–and bound to need a lot of spiritual defense. Am doing what I can (including the Novena to the Holy Spirit).

  11. happyhockeymom says:


    I wonder where your parish is in Michigan? I am from Michigan and know of a perpetual adoration chapel that just celebrated it’s 20th or 25th anniversary. (Can’t remember details like I used to!)

    This story gives me hope, too, for the selection of our next bishop. Our bishop is due to retire next year and a lot of us are praying that God will bless us with a good and holy bishop.

  12. Mike says:

    Simply fantastic! What an inspiration. I will start praying in Adoration for my pastor today. :)

  13. Joseph-Mary says:

    But we need to note that the prayers of this intrepid group have continued for YEARS. It can take a long long time. I have prayed for perpetual adoration for 15 years now. And some of the priests have liked the idea but never has one step been taken by the parish. But I look at it as foundational because nothing comes easy or cheap. There may be places where the ‘yes’ to a holy endeavor somes after one novena or in a week or something but I would guess these are the rarer things and that the prayers of others are applied in those cases.

  14. Nathan says:

    A long time ago, well before even Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, when it seemed that the tide was going to overwhelm the traditional liturgy and traditional faith, I asked a wise Trad friend of mine, “How will the restoration ever occur?” She replied, “God will raise up saints; He always has in time of crisis.” I think this group is an excellent example of that.

    In Christ,

  15. Brad says:

    “…Our Lady of Fatima…”

    Need we look further?

    I will now pray an Ave Maria for the people who are doing the praying. I hope you will all join me. The should receive some battery charge for all they’ve expended on others.

  16. Obviously it’s good to ask for miracles; but obviously too, these folks have been doing a lot of praying “Thy will be done.” Ask for what you want, but be prepared just to be content with what you get. And remember, spending time with God is its own reward.

  17. guans says:

    (By Cardinal Mercier)
    I am going to reveal to you the secret of sanctity and happiness. Every day for five minutes control your imagination and close your eyes to all the noises of the world in order to enter into yourself. Then, in the sanctuary of your baptized soul (which is the temple of the Holy Spirit) speak to that Divine Spirit, saying to Him:
    O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You.
    Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me.
    Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders.
    I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me
    and to accept all that You permit to happen to me.
    Let me only know Your Will.

    If you do this, your life will flow along happily, serenely, and full of consolation, even in the midst of trials. Grace will be proportioned to the trial, giving you the strength to carry it and you will arrive at the Gate of Paradise, laden with merit. This submission to the Holy Spirit is the secret of sanctity.

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