St. Padre Pio processed through the streets of Williamsburg last Sunday.
The Italian Apostolate celebrated the 50th anniversary of St. Padre Pio’s death and the 100th anniversary of his stigmata with a procession from St. Francis of Paola Church, a worship site of Divine Mercy parish, to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.
Buses from around the diocese brought hundreds of proud people, who were ready to celebrate. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio celebrated the Mass in Italian.
Bishop DiMarzio holds Padre Pio close to his own heart and was happy to take part in the procession.
“He is a saint that many people take to and he is very good at answering prayers so maybe that is why so many people love him. The stigmata also attracts many people and they see how close he was to Christ because he suffered daily. That makes him such a great saint because he suffered for his love of Christ.
“He is very special to me because you can relate to him, as a confessor and as someone trying to help people. He was able to read people’s souls and was able to help so many people,” the bishop said.
Msgr. David Cassato, coordinator of the diocesan Italian Apostolate and pastor of St. Athanasius parish, Bensonhurst, was celebrating culture, but also spreading his faith throughout the neighborhood.
“Today is a wonderful day for me because of all the cultures of this diocese and being able to celebrate an individual culture is special. Today, we’re celebrating the Italian culture and honoring Padre Pio. Padre Pio crosses all sorts of culture lines. “
Msgr. Cassato was stopped by a few men standing outside a restaurant to ask him what the procession was for and he was happy to inform them.
Perfect Means To Evangelize
“This is a perfect means to evangelize. This neighborhood is all new young people and many do not know their own culture or faith. We can celebrate a culture today but also spread the faith through the community and grow stronger,” Msgr. Cassato said.
Luigi Pisctlli of St. Athanasius parish has a great love for Padre Pio and was proud to share it. “I saw him in Italy when I was young. His presence has stayed with me ever since,” said Pisctlli.
“He was so good and meant so much to so many people. You can see today how much he meant to people. I am a devout Christian but seeing him gave me such strength and he still does every day.
“I wanted to be here today to show my faith and love for Padre Pio. This day also means a lot to the Italian people, I would say millions of people were affected by him.”