Filipinos celebrate Mass in Padre Pio Shrine

LAST Oct. 16, we were in the church of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy celebrating Holy Mass with Fr. Vic Robles and Msgr. Joel Tubig, together with two American priests, as presiders. The solemn event was significant because we were venerating St. Padre Pio-some asked for his help in their healing, and others thanked him for answered prayers.

For businessman Florentino Torres, president and chief executive officer of Furnitureville Inc., it was a journey of thanksgiving. On Nov. 5, 1975, he had an illness that would have been fatal. Through the intercession of Padre Pio, he is still alive. He learned about the saint when some nuns visited him in the hospital and gave him a prayer to Padre Pio.

I was there to thank the saint for helping my brother Pompeyo Darang, Jr. get well from kidney disease which required dialysis two times a week. My brother can now walk unaided, eat and speak louder.

Canonized on June 16, 2002, the devotion to the new saint continues to attract people from all over the world. While we were in the shrine, hundreds of people streamed into the church. We were able to pray before his tomb in the basement of the church. A bigger church is being built behind the old church to accommodate the millions who come every year.

The stigmatist

St. Padre Pio bore the five wounds of Jesus Christ on his hands, feet and body for 50 years, making him the first stigmatized priest in the history of the church.

He celebrated Mass for more than two hours and was known to have said, "It would be easier for the earth to carry on without the sun than without the Holy Mass."

Francesco Forgione, who would become Padre Pio, was born to simple, hardworking farming folks on May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Southern Italy. His parents, Orazio Forgione and Maria Guisseppa de Nunzio, were extremely poor.

He was tutored privately until he joined the Capuchin Friars at 15. Of feeble health but strong will, he completed his studies and was ordained in 1910.

On Sept. 20, 1918, Christ's five wounds appeared on his body. Hordes were attracted to his confessional and many more received his spiritual guidance through correspondence. His whole life was marked by long hours of prayer and continual austerity.

His letters to his spiritual directors revealed how he suffered physically and spiritually. They also revealed his very deep union with God, his burning love for the Blessed Eucharist and our Blessed Lady. After over half a century of intense suffering and constant apostolic activity in San Giovanni Rotondo, he died on Sept. 23, 1968.

After a public funeral that drew almost 100,000, he was entombed in the crypt of Our Lady of Grace Church. People flock to his tomb from all parts of the world and many testify to spiritual and temporal graces received.

Padre Pio healing Masses

The Spirit of Love Community will hold a healing Mass of St. Padre Pio on Nov. 3, at 6:30 p.m. at the Manila Seedling Bank, Quezon Avenue corner Edsa. A relic of Padre Pio will be presented for veneration.

At the Greenbelt Chapel, Fr. Prex Fajardo recites the prayer to Padre Pio 15 minutes before the Masses on Thursday and Saturday. The schedule of Masses are: Thursday-7:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m.; and Saturday-12:15 p.m.; 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Those wishing to buy the book "Padre Pio Profile" or donate to the new church in San Giovanni Rotondocan may call +63 2 6343668 or 6350875.

Get the second book of Bishop Chito Tagle, "An Easter People: Our Christian Vocation to be Messengers of Hope." It is a compilation of lectures to two religious orders of nuns during retreats in 1993, 1995 and 1997.

The book is distributed by Anvil Publishing and is also available at all outlets of Jesuit Communications. Call +63 2 4265971 or e-mail

Operation Smile

Maryknoll Classes '66 and '70 are coordinating with Babes Narciso for the "Operation Smile" project Nov. 5-8 in Benguet General Hospital. Children and adults will be operated on to correct harelip.

Marian pilgrimage

Gloria Gelua and friends are organizing a pilgrimage to Marian shrines in Cagayan and Isabela with Banawe Tours. In the itinerary are Our Lady of Piat in Cagayan and Our Lady of Guibang in Guibang, Isabela. Text +63 919 6773544 or call +63 2 5336903.

Prayer Warriors

The Prayer Warriors of the Holy Souls (PWHS) will hold a Holy Mass for the dead at 9:45 a.m. today at the Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz (Binondo Church). Msgr. Josefino Ramirez and Fr. Jojo Zerrudo will concelebrate the Mass.

PWHS is also organizing a one-day spiritual formation for members and others 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Nov. 22, RVM Sisters Complex, 214 N. Domingo St., QC.

The 100-peso registration fee covers snack, lunch and handouts. Call +63 2 5310394 or 5312157 local 101.

Centering prayer

A Centering Prayer Workshop will be held Nov. 14-16 at the St. Joseph Marello Retreat House. Call +63 2 8424030.


Devotees of Our Lady of Biglang Awa in Metro Manila will hold a Triduum of Masses venerating Our Lady of Biglang Awa, patroness of Marinduque. Masses will be held at the St. Paul's Seminary Chapel at 5:30 p.m., Nov. 7; 4 p.m., Nov. 8; and 4 p.m., Nov. 9.

In charge are groups from Sta. Cruz, Torrijos, Buenavista, Boac, Mogpog and Gasan towns, together with Marinducare Foundation, Biglang Awa Foundation plus youth and professionals from the province.

Cavite patroness

Masses will be held on Nov. 9, feast day of the Nuestra Se¤ora de Soledad de Porta Vaga, patroness of Cavite. Bishop Chito Tagle will officiate at the 9 a.m. High Mass at San Roque Church, Cavite City.

Originating in Spain, the devotion venerates the "Soledad" as the Sorrowful Mother. She is portrayed contemplating the wounds on her Son's body during His Passion and Death.

Fr. Vir Mendoza reported that his mother, Concha Saenz Mendoza, 81, had a successful operation to remove the mass in her ovary. He said Bishop Tagle danced in the caracol for Our Lady of Pillar on Oct. 11, the day of the operation, for the healing of Father Vir's mother.

Tita Concha is well. Thanks to the intercession of the Virgin Mother. Happy feast day, Mama Mary

Those who wish to help Dexter Marbella pay for his dialysis can text his mother +63 920 5957384.

St. John of the Cross

A series of lectures on St. John of the Cross will be held Nov. 22 and 29, and Dec. 6 and 13.

The lectures, "Discovering St. John of the Cross, A Lecture Series," are organized by St. John of the Cross and the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, St. Teresa of Jesus Community.

Sr. Presentacion Tiotuyco, OCDS, president of the OCDS, St. Teresa of Jesus Community; and Bro. Lorenzo Fernandez Jr., OCD, project director, said the lectures would be held 4-6 p.m. at the Maryhill School of Theology Auditorium, E. Rodriguez ave., QC (Nov. 22 and 29, and Dec. 6) and at the Community Hall of the Lady of Mt. Carmel Shrine, Cor. 5th st. and J. Rodriguez, New Manila, QC (Dec. 13).

Lecturers and topics include professor Boy Calasanz, Ateneo de Manila University, "St. John of the Cross: Master of Light and Love"; Fr. Ignacio Read, OCD, "Dark Night: A Contemporary Experience?"; Fr. Thomas Green, SJ, "St. John of the Cross: The Great Spiritual Director"; and professor Macario Ofilada, University of Santo Tomas, "St. John of the Cross: Beauty as Nothing, Beauty as Everything."

Lectures are free of charge but admission tickets will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis:

Nov. 3: OCDS House of Prayer; Nov. 4, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Shrine Parish Office, 5th St., New Manila, QC; and Maryhill School of Theology, 14th st. cor. Gilmore St., New Manila, QC. Call +63 2 7222424, 4138780, 7242978 or +63 918 9277741.


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