By Dave Jolivet
FALMOUTH — After several delays, relics of the beloved St. Padre Pio are making a visit to the Diocese of Fall River on August 25 and 26 at St. Patrick’s Church in Falmouth.
In 2016, Msgr. Stephen J. Avila, pastor of St. Joseph, Guardian of the Holy Family Parish in Falmouth, made a pilgrimage with a group from Cape Cod on a pilgrimage to San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, home to Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary where St. Padre Pio spent his final years. “While at San Giovanni Rotondo, I was graced with some very powerful experiences being in the presence of relics of St. Padre Pio,” Msgr. Avila told The Anchor. “I was so moved by the whole experience and felt the need to share what I felt with others who would never get to visit the Friary. I wish others could have the opportunity to experience being in the presence of the relics.”
St. Padre Pio was a Capuchin priest, an order that seeks extreme poverty, strict observance of the Franciscan rule and simplicity. He ministered in Italy as a priest for 68 years. He was known worldwide as a healer, a confessor and a mystic who suffered the extreme pains of stigmata.
Msgr. Avila did arrange to have the relics of St. Padre Pio brought to Falmouth in May of 2020 but that opportunity was dealt a heartbreaking blow with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down the world.
Despite being disappointed at losing the chance to have the relics brought to the diocese, Msgr. Avila’s powerful experiences kept him resolute to bring this gift to others.
“I learned of the St. Pio Foundation, a group that offers dioceses and parishes the chance to host relics of St. Padre Pio,” said Msgr. Avila. “I contacted them and they had one open date left this year and I quickly reserved that time.
“I am very excited at the opportunity being offered to local Catholics to be in the presence of first- and second-class relics of this holy man. From what I understand, this is the only appearance of the relics in Massachusetts this year.”
Msgr. Avila told The Anchor that the first-class relics are blood from the saint’s hand wounds and a lock of his hair; the second-class relic is a piece of his habit.
“People will be allowed to bring medals and holy cards that they may touch to the relics, thus making those items third-class relics,” he explained.
Because St. Padre Pio is a powerful healer and because the Sacrament of Confession was of utmost importance to him, the two-day event at St. Patrick’s Church will include Confessions and Anointing of the Sick.
“We established a committee to handle the logistics of the visit,” said Msgr. Avila. “Whenever the relics are present, there must be greeters to welcome guests, and there must be an honor guard flanking the relics. Many people are working hard to make this a wonderful, grace-filled two days.”
On Friday, August 25, the relics will arrive and there will be a prayer service with the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick at 3 p.m. Veneration will follow and continue until 8 p.m.
On Saturday, August 26, following an 8 a.m. Mass, veneration will begin again at 8:30 a.m until 3 p.m.
The 4 p.m. Vigil Mass will be in honor of St. Padre Pio, celebrated by Msgr. Avila. Following the Mass, Luciano Lamonarca, founder and director of the St. Pio Foundation, will speak about the foundation’s work and St. Pio’s inspiring legacy.
“It is my hope that many people will take the opportunity to visit and experience, in their own way, the grace and power of the presence of St. Padre Pio’s relics,” said Msgr. Avila. He added that the two-day event will be live-streamed on the parish website.
For more information visit the parish website at falmouthcatholic.org or contact the parish by calling 508-548-0108, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the St. Pio Foundation and St. Padre Pio, visit padrepio.com.