Nightfever offers warm welcome

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Sunday, February 9, 2014

People gather at Holy Name Cathedral for Nightfever on Oct. 5. Nightfever is an evening of adoration, music, reconciliation and outreach that started following World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany. It now has taken place in more than 30 cities in Europe, Canada and the United States. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)

It might be cold the night of Feb. 22, but there will be a warm glow coming from Holy Name Cathedral.

That evening will be the second time the Archdiocese of Chicago has hosted “Nightfever,” in which young adults literally invite people in off the streets to light a candle and pray in front of the Eucharist. There will be music and priests will be available for confession or just to talk.

After the first event, held Oct. 25, organizers counted more than 400 candles that had been lit in prayer and left on the steps of the cathedral sanctuary, said Deacon Bradley Zamora, a fourth-year student at Mundelein Seminary/University of St. Mary of the Lake, who expects to be ordained in May.

He and Megan Miller, a student at the University of St. Mary of the Lake’s Liturgical Institute, are coordinating the event. Both were pulled into the effort about a month before October’s Nightfever, and neither is sure quite how they ended up in charge.

Both credit the Holy Spirit with the success of the first event.

“We weren’t even sure what it was going to be like,” said Miller.

“I kept calling it ‘praise and worship on steroids,’” Zamora said. “We knew there was going to be music, and there would be exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and there would be priests.”

Volunteers start the evening with the 7:30 p.m. vigil Mass at the cathedral, followed by a meeting and prayer for volunteers. Then they invite people in to pray starting at 9 p.m., and close with night prayer, ending at midnight.

Those who came in to pray in October included everyone from well-dressed people out for a night on the town to those who seemed to be down and out.

“The idea is to have it in a very metropolitan, people-heavy kind of area. In Chicago, that’s the cathedral,” Zamora said. However, the cathedral does not sponsor the event, which is run under the auspices of Young Adult Ministry.

Nightfever began in Cologne, Germany, following World Youth Day in 2005. It spread across Europe and is making its way into the United States, with different cities finding ways to adapt it. In some places, it’s a monthly event; Zamora and Miller are hoping that it will take place four times a year in Chicago, at least to start.

“The question we kept getting the first night is when are we going to do this again?” Zamora said.

For those who said they did not know what to pray for, Zamora said, volunteers suggested that they ask for help for those suffering in Syria. This time around, the event will focus on violence in Chicago.

“This is a very real issue for the archdiocese,” Zamora said.

St. Columbanus Parish, 331 E. 71st St., is one of the sponsors of the event. Father Matthew O’Donnell, pastor at St. Columbanus, will be among the priests available in the cathedral, and the parish plans to send a busload of parishioners to join in the prayers.

Other parishes are welcome to send people as well, Zamora said.

The vocations office and Young Adult Ministry also are involved, Miller and Zamora said, but much of the cost — estimated at $500 to $800, including the fee to use the cathedral — will be covered by a fundraising campaign on the IndieGoGo website.

“We are so grateful for everyone who contributed,” Miller said. “It really is beautiful.”


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