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: Centro San Juan Diego to celebrate its ‘Quinceañera’ Oct. 11

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“The more prosperous nations are obliged… to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin” (CCC 2241).

With the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in mind and the vision and mission of answering the Church’s call to welcome and aid the newcomers, Archbishop Charles Chaput and Monsignor José Gómez created Centro San Juan Diego in 2003.

Fifteen years later, the mission of Centro continues more urgently than ever. On Oct. 11, the institution will celebrate its 15th birthday — or as it’s called among Hispanics, its ‘Quinceañera.’

Centro was created to meet the urgent needs of the growing Hispanic immigrant community in Colorado after the arrival of what was considered one of the largest wave of immigrants to the U.S. between 1996 and 2004, explained Juan Carlos Reyes, Executive Director of Centro San Juan Diego.

“The creation of Centro was necessary, not only so Catholic immigrants could find the Church welcoming them, opening its doors and helping them to actively participate in the Church’s life, but also, for the immigrant community in general, regardless of their faith, to offer them an area of social work,” Reyes explained.

Since its creation, Centro has helped thousands of people. In fact, nearly 5,000 Hispanics reach out to Centro every year to receive faith formation and educational services. With the Pastoral Institute, the family, children’s and young adult’s ministries, and the educational and leadership programs, Centro has become the main resource center for both long-term residents and newcomers in Colorado.

At Centro, students start by learning English, preparing for their citizenship, and/or becoming entrepreneurs by attending small business classes.

Twice a month, Centro offers a legal night (Noche Legal) to provide legal advice from lawyers in different areas of law to those seeking help but with no financial means to do so.  During tax season, Centro provides tax preparation services at a low cost. Additionally, a tax preparer certification is available for those who want to pursue it.

“One of the programs that has given us more recognition is the partnership Centro has with Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP), a university in Puebla, Mexico that offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Spanish that are valid in both countries,” said Reyes. This partnership began in 2012 and provides online education at low cost to any Spanish-speaking individual, regardless of their citizenship status.

A positive effect on families

One of the most touching testimonies shared by a Centro student came from Monica Chavez, who was the first graduate from the UPAEP program.

“During her graduation ceremony speech, she paused and, addressing her children, she said, ‘There are no excuses now [for them not to graduate],’” recalled Reyes. “The services at Centro are offered to help families, to help parents be the best parents they can be. The education this student [received] has had a direct effect on her life. We are almost certain that her children will graduate [due to her mother’s example].”

Centro San Juan Diego’s mission is continuous. Earlier this year, the “Sister Alicia V. Cuarón Education Fund” was created to honor the legacy of Sister Alicia V. Cuarón, the founder of the previous family services program and a lifelong advocate for Hispanic issues in business, leadership and empowerment. The education fund supports the family services and programs at Centro.

“This education fund is an effective tool to respond to the Church’s call to help immigrants, regardless of their ethnicity or economic status,” stated Reyes.

The future of Centro

When asked about Centro’s future, Reyes enthusiastically responded that among its promising plans, there is a great opportunity “to establish regional offices on the Eastern Plains and Western slope to reach the immigrant community in those areas.” They also plan “to extend vocation and education courses through the archdiocese and create new programs that will address the growing and diverse needs of immigrants, such as education, leadership development, job training and readiness, while ensuring easy access to its award-winning services.”