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Talking to Padre Pio


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Hundreds upon thousands from across the globe gathered in Rome for the canonization of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, witnessing to the many people he touched during his life and continues to affect today. Amidst the throngs was a group from the Padre Pio Prayer Group of St. John Cantius Parish, located in the heart of Chicago. They meet every third Saturday of the month to pray together and listen to guest speaker presentations.

“It’s a big consolation, knowing that there is a larger group worldwide, and that you are all spiritual children of Padre Pio,” said Resurrectionist Father Frank Phillips, C.R., pastor at St. John Cantius. “The canonization is an example of how there are all of these people, all over the world, relating to each other.”

The group receives prayer requests from throughout the globe, but is associated specifically with a hospital founded by St. Pio in Foggia, Italy, the “Home for Relief of Suffering.” The third Saturday of every month, beginning with Tridentine Mass at 8:30 a.m., is followed by prayers for the success of this hospital, as well as a recitation of the Chaplet of St. Padre Pio, and prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Amos Miller is the head of the prayer group as well as guardian of holy relics at St. John Cantius, among which is a first-class relic of a cloth bloodstained from the wound in Padre Pio’s side. Relics are often brought out at meetings for veneration.

Amidst the international effort of Padre Pio’s work, Miller stresses the importance of organizing groups directly associated with his mission.

“Once you’ve completed the formalized process, you become serious spiritual children of Padre Pio, and you will have his guidance, which, oftentimes, can be heavy-handed,” said Miller.

Bob Dolan, a participant of the group, has experienced this.

“Padre Pio is someone who takes a direct, personal involvement in my life,” he said. “If I’m straying off the path he will hit me between the eyes, and he has done that for quite a few people I know, in order to keep us on the straight and narrow.”

Another group member, Cynthia Bartnik, was drawn into the group from its inception, when she saw a sign about a meeting and felt as if she was being called.

“I fell in love and it’s been a love affair ever since,” Bartnik gushes.

Phillips sees Padre Pio’s appeal in the simplicity of his mission.

“Padre Pio had a Franciscan simplicity, and everyone relates to St. Francis,” said Father Phillips. “He has a certain apostulate that is caring for the sick. Who hasn’t had someone close to them sick?”

What Bartnik notes as a high point of the group, however, is realizing that there are more than only those close to us who need our help and prayers.

“I used to be selfish, but in this group, our hearts are open to the plight of everyone,” she said. “We’re all in this together, walking the same spiritual path. Through Padre Pio we learn to extend ourselves to everyone. It’s made me a better person.”