Several hundred people came to Assumption Church in Wildwood Crest on a recent Wednesday afternoon, drawn by admiration for two Franciscan friars — one a hermit and the other a saint who bore the wounds of Christ — and the promise of healing.
Father Pio Mandato of the Diocese of Scranton, Pa., celebrated a healing Mass at the church, one of the worship sites of Notre Dame de la Mer Parish, Wildwood, on Wednesday, June 27.
At the end of Mass people lined up to be blessed with a relic of the Italian stigmatist St. Padre Pio, a glove he wore on one of his bleeding hands.
It was from the hands of St. Padre Pio, who was canonized by Pope John Paul II 10 years ago, that Father Mandato received his first holy Communion.
Father Mandato was born in Pietrelcina in Southern Italy, the same town where St. Padre Pio was born. He grew up in New Jersey and he entered the Capuchin Franciscans — the community of St. Padre Pio — at age 17, where he received his Franciscan formation and later priestly formation.
Ordained in 1985, he served as a hospital chaplain and ministered to the homeless. In 1998, he was accepted into the Diocese of Scranton and has lived a life of prayer as a hermit in solitude, occasionally traveling around the country to celebrate healing Masses.
Hermits, according to Catechism of the Catholic Church, “devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance.”
Concelebrating the June 27 Mass with Father Mandato was Father Joseph D. Wallace of Notre Dame de la Mer Parish.