Bishop Dennis Sullivan has decreed that on Sept. 23, the feast of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, that Vineland’s Our Lady of Pompeii Church, at Saint Padre Pio Parish, will be named a Diocesan Shrine of Pio of Pietrelcina.
This news was first made public to the community’s faithful during last weekend’s Masses, where Father Robert Sinatra, pastor, made his “state of the parish” address.
The effective date of the decree comes on the culminating day of the annual, week-long Saint Padre Pio Festival at the parish.
Born Francesco Forgione on May 25, 1887, in the small farm town of Pietrelcina, Italy, Padre Pio, as he was known, was a Capuchin Friar best remembered for his deep faith, contemplative nature, and for bearing the stigmata, the wounds of Christ.
The shrine will promote Saint Pio’s holiness and witness to a life lived for Christ, and be a place of pilgrimage for the faithful, inspired by this saint, to draw closer to the Lord.
Father Sinatra said the idea for the shrine first came from Father Fortunato Grottola, a Capuchin Friar who is the superior of the Capuchin Monastery in Pietrelcina, Saint Pio’s hometown. A frequent visitor to Father Sinatra’s church, Father Fortunato travels the world “promoting the spirituality and devotion of Padre Pio,” Father Sinatra said.
His parishioners’ reaction to the decree “has been positive; everyone’s excited.”
Calling the saint the perfect example of “radical dependence on God,” Father Sinatra said the stigmata Padre Pio carried for the last 50 years of his life, and his constant command to “pray, hope, and don’t worry,” is a “a model of Christ” that all should seek to emulate.
In an area with many Italian immigrants, the Parish of Saint Padre Pio was established in January 2003 — the result of a merger between the churches of Our Lady of Pompeii and Saint Mary Church in Vineland — six months after Padre Pio was canonized by Saint John Paul II.
Although the parish is comprised of two churches, the diocesan shrine is limited to only the church of Our Lady of Pompeii and its campus.
Concerning the Saint Padre Pio Shrine that is in Landisville, also in Cumberland County, Father Sinatra stated his desire “to work with them, and the good things that are already happening there.”
Planned activities at the new shrine include a perpetual novena to Saint Pio every Thursday; a Mass in honor of the patron saint every first Thursday of the month, along with the novena; and the creation of the Patrons of Pietrelcina, an official sanctioned prayer group of lay faithful in accord with the norms established by the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor, that will meet monthly to examine Saint Pio’s spirituality and engage in acts of charity.
The Saint Padre Pio Festival in Vineland kicks off this Monday, Sept. 17, with an opening Mass at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Pompeii Church. Highlights during the week include talks on the spirituality and miracles of Padre Pio; a Mass for the feast of the Korean Martyrs; and a Festival of Praise for Young Adults.
On Sunday, Sept. 23, the aforementioned feast of Padre Pio, the day will begin with a Mass and procession at 11 a.m., followed by the festival that includes food, drinks, farmer’s market, and children’s games, and 2 p.m. Italian Mass.
For more information on the parish and Saint Padre Pio Festival, visit www.pppnj.org