During the events of the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, two students were inspired to initiate a movement that since has spread to over 80 cities in Europe, North and South America, and Australia. Known as “Nightfever,” the movement hosts evenings of prayer during which young adults invite passers-by into an open church. Upon entering, those in attendance encounter a peaceful, dimly-lit atmosphere in which Eucharistic adoration, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and praise and worship have been made available to the public.

When the event was first held in Chicago on October 5, 2013, over 400 people visited Holy Name Cathedral to pray, light candles, go to Confession, or simply listen to the music playing softly in the background. According to the Nightfever Chicago website, “The idea behind Nightfever is simple: Open the Church, invite people in, and let Christ work. And the effect is remarkable.

“People came into the Cathedral to pray before going on their way,” the website continues. “Some lit a candle and left, others stayed for over an hour. Some were not Christian; others received the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time in decades. Hearts were touched and healed and transformed, not only in those who were invited in but also in the volunteers themselves. It was an outstanding experience of Christ’s love for all involved.”

Like the founders of Nightfever, Notre Dame students have recognized the power of the Eucharistic Christ to draw His people to Himself. Assembling various university organizations and student groups, Peter St. George, a senior biology major and theology minor headed to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary after graduation, has worked closely with the Knights of Columbus, the Institute for Church Life, and Campus Ministry to plan all-night adoration that will culminate in a Eucharistic procession and benediction on the weekend of April 9-10.

The purpose of the event, St. George explained to the Rover, is “to spread devotion to Divine Mercy in this Easter Season of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.” All members of the university community will be invited to participate in the public recitation of the Divine Mercy Novena beginning Friday, April 1 and to visit the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on April 9 for adoration that will continue into the night and culminate with a Eucharistic procession taking place on April 10. Although the procession could not take place on the Feast of Divine Mercy because of Holy Cross ordinations, the celebration will nevertheless be a powerful experience of God’s mercy.

The Knights of Columbus will lead the Eucharistic procession. Holy Cross and St. Mary’s Colleges’ campus ministry programs will sponsor the first altar of repose on which the Blessed Sacrament will be placed at the statue of Fr. Sorin. Two of the university’s Marian groups, the Notre Dame Militia of the Immaculata and the Children of Mary, will sponsor the second altar at the statue of Our Lady of the University at Main Circle.

Unlike many other events hosted by student organizations, the Eucharistic procession is unique because it is a collaboration of groups, institutes, and individuals. Its purpose is not to promote a certain charism or ideology, but to provide people with an opportunity to encounter Christ in quiet, personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Evan Holguin, Deputy Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, told the Rover, “This Eucharistic Procession has been the desire of many Knights, especially our chaplain Father Jarrod Waugh, CSC, We all believe that is our duty as Knights of Columbus to serve our Lord at all times, and this Procession allows us to serve Him in a particularly intimate way. … The Knights hope to continue to work with Campus Ministry so that the students can demonstrate their love for the Eucharist with an annual Procession in the years to follow.”

As Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, whose mystic encounters with Christ led to the resurgence and promotion of the devotion to Divine Mercy in the 20th century, wrote, “To converse with You, O Lord, is the delight of my heart. In You I find everything that my heart could desire. Here Your light illumines my mind, enabling it to know You more and more deeply. Here streams of grace flow down upon my heart. Here my soul draws eternal life. O my Lord and Creator, You alone, beyond all these gifts, give Your own self to me and unite Yourself intimately with Your miserable creature.”

It will be a tremendous gift to the university community if, in the wake of this Divine Mercy Novena and procession, all students can repeat these words of St. Faustina Maria Kowalska, whose mystic encounters with Christ led to the resurgence and promotion of the devotion to Divine Mercy in the twentieth century “To converse with You, O Lord, is the delight of my heart.”

Nicole O’Leary is a sophomore theology and history major living in McGlinn Hall. Contact her at noleary@nd.edu.