Padre Pio’s relics bring “overwhelming sense of peace”

Beloved Capuchin's relics will be in Denver April 11-12

When people come in contact with Padre Pio’s relics, miracles can happen.

“Some people cry continuously,” said Luciano Lamonarca. “Some of them are just in awe because of the great spirit of reverence you find in the church while you venerate the relics.”

Lamonarca, founder, president and CEO of the Saint Pio Foundation, witnessed miracles of all kinds when the saint’s relics toured the United States for the first time in 2017.

“The response we had last year was tremendous,” he said.

It was so tremendous that the Saint Pio Foundation is sponsoring another U.S. tour this year, and the relics will be coming to St. Mary Catholic Parish in Littleton April 11 and 12.

Lamonarca has high hopes for this year’s outcome, as last year’s tour changed many hearts. One instance that stands out for him is the story of a woman who wrote to the foundation, saying her daughter had left the Church decades ago.

“And then [the daughter] passed by the church where we were hosting the relics in Chicago,” said Lamonarca, “and she was surprised to see this crowd outside.”

The woman asked what was going on when someone told her Padre Pio’s relics were inside, said Lamonarca. She entered the church and was overcome by the feeling it gave her.

“She felt called back [to the Church] through Padre Pio,” he said. “I consider that to be a small, but very touching miracle.”

Padre Pio’s body lies in state at the Shrine of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina in San Giovanni Rotondo. (Photos by Aaron Lambert)

Those type of experiences are no surprise to Father Joseph Mary Elder, O.F.M.Cap., who serves youth and young adults at Annunciation Catholic Church in Littleton and as vocation director for the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Conrad.

“If you look at what was going on during [Padre Pio’s] life, there’s a sense of him almost being otherworldly because he’s a miracle man,” said Father Elder.

“It constantly seems like he was in this dialogue with the supernatural — with the divine,” he said. “It was just on such a regular basis that I don’t think it’s any surprise that it would continue after his death.”

During his third year as a Capuchin, Father Elder was able to visit San Giovanni Rotondo, a small city in the countryside of Italy where Padrio Pio spent most of his life conducting ministry. His body lies in state at the Sanctuary of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, near the church at which he served.

Because Father Elder is a fellow member of Padre Pio’s order, he was able to touch the saint’s tomb.

“That’s one of the few times in my life I remember this overwhelming sense of peace,” he said.

Padre Pio continues to bring comfort to many, particularly through the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (Home for Relief of the Suffering), a religious hospital he helped found in San Giovanni Rotondo that is designed to alleviate the suffering of the sick.

The saint’s affection for the suffering came largely out of his own experience with the stigmata — the wounds of Christ — which he bore for 50 years.

His deep wisdom, spirituality and affection for the sick serve as an inspiration for Father Elder and millions of Catholics worldwide.

“I think what resonates so strongly for people with Padre Pio is that he went through so many periods of darkness and suffering in his life — despite all the gifts that he had,” said Father Elder.

If you look at what was going on during [Padre Pio’s] life, there’s a sense of him almost being otherworldly because he’s a miracle man.”

“He had to deal with all of these [trials], and he used it all somehow to grow in holiness and to become a saint,” he added.

Whether it was carrying the stigmata, dealing with persecution from nonbelievers, or experiencing his own doubts, Padre Pio fought through the adversity, and Lamonarca hopes his example will inspire every day Catholics to seek a greater holiness.

“Not all of us can reach the level of sainthood or a call like Padre Pio,” said Lamonarca, “but we can get inspiration from them to do our own holy job.”

Padre Pio relics tour
St. Mary Catholic Parish in Littleton
April 11 from 4 p.m. — 6:30 p.m.
April 12 from 8 a.m. — 6 p.m.
A Mass in honor of Padre Pio will be celebrated April 11 at 7 p.m.

Relics available for veneration
St. Pio’s glove
St. Pio’s crusts of the wounds
Cotton-gauze with St. Pio’s blood stains
Lock of St. Pio’s hair
St. Pio’s mantle
St. Pio’s handkerchief

Featured image by Andrew Wright

Editor’s note: The print version of this article that appears in the March 24 edition has the wrong date for the Mass honoring Padre Pio. The Mass will be held on Wednesday, April 11 at 7 p.m.

COMING UP: Saint John Institute hosts inaugural graduation

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Regina Ramsey was tired of hearing complaints about what’s wrong with the world and what needs to change within the Catholic Church. She wanted to act.

“I decided that I could either join the people talking about the changes that needed to be made or I could do something about it,” said Ramsey.

That’s when she turned to the Saint John Institute — an MBA program run by the Congregation of Saint John centered on the New Evangelization that helps students develop their gifts to become great leaders in the Church.

“An MBA through Saint John Institute seemed to be the right fit because it combined business knowledge with deep spiritual formation,” said Ramsey.

After graduating from the Saint John Institute with fellow student Brianne Schulze on April 15 — the first students to graduate from the program — Ramsey looks forward to centering her daily life on her Catholic faith. She hopes to one day help non-profits utilize business structures to help them with long-term success.

The Saint John Institute isn’t your average MBA program.

“Our program is different from other MBA programs because of the focus on developing an authentic prayer life and spirituality,” said Father Francis Therese Kratter, the program’s chaplain.

Father Nathan Cromley, president of the Saint John Institute, hands Brianne Schulze her diploma at the inaugural graduation ceremony for the institute April 15. (Photo by Andrew Wright)

“We all know deep down that prayer is what makes our lives fruitful, but we rarely devote the time we know we should to this most important activity,” he said.

The Saint John Institute shapes students through two years of monastic prayer and study, said Father Kratter. He believes the success of current and future students steams from a foundation of prayer.

Students like Schulze were attracted to the program because of that spiritual formation.

“I saw the MBA as a necessary challenge to help me gain the practical business skills I needed to be able to evangelize more effectively through my art,” she said.

Schulze is an artist whose goal was to develop her skills and use them to glorify God.

“Art and beauty point to the eternal,” she said, “and I feel I have a responsibility in creating work that does that — work that gives people an opportunity to encounter Christ through the transcendent power of beauty.”

Schulze was deeply inspired by the Brothers of Saint John, who form the students both academically and spiritually.

“They challenged me in my faith and have helped lead me to Christ in a deeper way than I ever thought possible,” said Schulze.

For more information on the Saint John Institute, visit www.saintjohninstitute.org.