Diocesan News

Glendale Tradition Continues As Faithful Celebrate Padre Pio

Viva Padre Pio! Men carry the statue of St. Padre Pio from the aisles of St. Pancras throughout the streets of Glendale during the annual procession sponsored by the Padre Pio Prayer Group. The march was preceded by a Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez. (Photos: Melissa Enaje)

Hundreds of people from the Glendale-Middle Village cluster of parishes honored St. Padre Pio on his feast day, Sept. 23. This year marks the 50th anniversary of his death.

The annual Mass and neighborhood procession sponsored by the Padre Pio Prayer Group, was held in Italian and English. Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez was the main celebrant. He was joined by Fathers Francis Hughes, pastor; Fred Marano, pastor, SS. Simon and Jude, Gravesend; Anthony Sansone, pastor, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Ridgewood; and Msgrs. Steven Aguggia, judicial vicar; and James Kelly, St. Brigid, Bushwick.

“I think the devotion of the people is a tremendous inspiration for us and they obviously have devotion to the saint which is meant to help us to identify with people who are like us and who help lead us to Christ,” said Bishop Sanchez.

“So this is all about nourishing the call to holiness in our own lives and accompanying one another on this journey of faith which obviously has many crosses in the midst of that same journey.”

For the faithful gathered on a gloomy Sunday afternoon, gray skies couldn’t cloud their radiant love and devotion for Francesco Forgione, more commonly known as Padre Pio. That’s because year after year, familiar faces that share not only their faith, but their common Italian heritage, come together once a year like a family get-together showcasing just how devoted they are to the saint who coined the phrase “Pray, hope and don’t worry.”

In his homily, Msgr. Aguggia reminded the congregation that in order to truly grasp the message behind one of Padre Pio’s most popular phrases, it will mean taking into consideration just how much trust in God does one have.

The line of march stopped at the FDNY station on Myrtle Ave. while “God Bless America” played by the marching band as the firefighters were blessed by Bishop Sanchez.

Trust in God

“A person of faith and hope who really and truly has faith and hope, also trusts in God,” he said. “It means to have the hope that identifies us as Christians and to truly trust in God. Today is an opportunity for us to renew that trust in God, following the example of Padre Pio. Today as we process to the streets, let us proclaim our faith, our hope and our trust.”

As the crowds took to the streets, led by the marching band, followed by the flower girls, the clergy and the lay faithful, together they peacefully kept the Glendale tradition alive as the rose petals marked the streets where they walked accompanied by occasional exclamations of “Viva Padre Pio!”

Pockets of Joy

But dig a little bit deeper and one will find that within the crowds were moments of sweet embraces, smiles and childlike pockets of joy.

Flower girls cut balloons as the Padre Pio statue stopped at the houses marked with colorful decorations honoring their beloved Italian saint.

One member of the Padre Pio prayer group who also attended last year’s festivities spoke about how important it was to have the children participate in the event.

“They are here because we want to show everybody in the streets that these little ones know what it means to be faithful to Padre Pio,” said Maria Bommarito.

“His words ‘pray, hope and don’t worry’ are something that everybody should live by, you know, and I’m not just saying that, I really mean it,” she added, “because you pray everyday, you hope that God is listening to your prayers and then you don’t worry about it, just like Padre Pio says, don’t worry, God will take care of it – and it works.”

Whether it was the Italian-bred nonnas who didn’t speak a lick of English, but welcomed those who joined in the festivities with kisses to the cheek, or the Padre Pio prayer group organizers who made sure no one was hurt, or the prayer group’s president Francesa Ferraro who kept every little detail in line for the event’s success, one thing was evident during the feast day: prayers were said, hope was had and not a worry was in sight.