Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Several relics of St. Pio of Pietrelcina — better known as Padre Pio — have returned to the United States and Canada after their successful 2017 tour to North America. The tour will have stops in several dioceses.
The news comes from the Saint Pio Foundation, the official sponsors of this 2019 two-part visit currently scheduled to run through June 15. It will then resume Sept. 15 and continue through Nov. 15.
This latest tour looks forward to seeing the faithful come out in huge numbers. The 2017 tour drew more than 500,000 people throughout its stops and attracted even the major secular media’s attention.
With so many faithful coming to venerate the relics of this well-known and popular saint, this current two-part tour surely seemed a “must-do.”
“We are indeed grateful to all of those who have helped us to bring the relics of Padre Pio to so many faithful in these past two years,” said the Saint Pio Foundation’s president and CEO Luciano Lamonarca in a prepared statement. “The most important fact, in our opinion, was that the majority of those attending the tour of the relics of Padre Pio would never be able to travel to San Giovanni Rotondo or Pietrelcina to visit the places where our Saint was born, lived and died. It has, therefore, become a mission for us to enable these faithful devotees to have a ‘spiritual encounter’ with Padre Pio.”
That encounter includes venerating the saint’s relics. Again on this new tour there will be several relics of Padre Pio available for veneration: Saint Pio’s glove; Saint Pio’s crusts of the wounds; cotton-gauze with Saint Pio’s blood stains; a lock of Saint Pio’s hair; Saint Pio’s mantle; and Saint Pio’s handkerchief soaked with his sweat hours before he died.
Spring Tour Schedule
The tour opened on May 1 in the Diocese of Evansville, Indiana, and has visited sites in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Texas.
From the United States, the tour heads north to Canada for the next stop, which will be St. Theresa Parish of the Diocese of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, on Thursday, May 30. Two days later on Saturday, June 1, the tour is scheduled to be at Holy Rosary Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Regina in province of Saskatchewan. The following day, June 2, students and adults will be able to venerate the relics at archdiocese’s Miller Catholic High School, also in Regina. Then on June 3 in the province of Ontario, the tour will be at the Cocathédrale de la Nativité de la Bienheureuse Vierge Marie in the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall.
Next, the tour returns to the United States to be welcomed at the Cathedral of St. Patrick in the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, on June 11. The first part of this two-part tour completes after the last stop for two days, June 14 and 15, at the Basilica of the Assumption in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Fall Tour Schedule
The second part of the tour kicks off Sept. 16 in the Diocese of Lafayette, Indiana, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. At this stop Lafayette Bishop Timothy Doherty will celebrate a Mass in honor of St. Pio. Heading eastward, the tour will spend Sept. 21-22 at St. John the Baptist Church in New York City then return westward again to Christ the King Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on Sept. 27.
Two days later, on Sept. 29 the Cathedral of St. Joseph in the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will host the relics tour.
October will have several scheduled stops.
The month begins on Oct. 2 with the relics tour at the Co-Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Rochester, Minnesota. Then south by the Gulf of Mexico, Notre Dame Seminary in the Archdiocese of New Orleans will welcome the tour on Oct. 5. The following day, Oct. 6, Our Lady of Fatima Church in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, will host the tour and Lafayette Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel will celebrate a Mass in honor of St. Pio.
The tour returns north to be at St. Mary Cathedral in the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan on Oct. 9 where Gaylord’s Bishop Steven Raica will celebrate a Mass in honor of St. Pio. Next stops on will be Oct. 15-16 in the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, at St. Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and at the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother (The Grotto).
On Oct. 16, Archbishop Alexander Sample will celebrate Mass.
The tour heads northeast about 1,400 miles to the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo, North Dakota, for Oct. 23 where Bishop John Folda will celebrate Mass in honor of the popular saint.
The tour then travels to St. Mary’s Cathedral in the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Colorado, for Nov. 2 where Bishop Michael Sheridan will celebrate a Mass in honor of Padre Pio. Similarly, on Nov. 7 at Holy Family Parish in the Diocese of Yakima, Washington, Bishop Joseph Tyson will celebrate the Mass for the same intention.
Once again the tour heads toward the southern borders for a stop on Nov. 9 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in the Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico. Then it heads to another Sacred Heart Cathedral, this one two states away in the Diocese of Salina, Kansas, where Bishop Gerald Vincke will celebrate the Mass during the stop.
The tour will end here.
Again, the United States visits bring the reminder of how they tie into Padre Pio’s own family. The saint’s father, Grazio Forgione, had to leave the family’s hometown of Pietrelcina to go abroad to provide economic support for a specific purpose. Forgione first went to Brazil, then eventually to New Castle, Pennsylvania, about 50 miles from Pittsburgh. There he spent more than 10 years and brought with him Padre Pio’s brother. Dad Grazio working all those years in the United States earned money for his son Padre Pio’s study to become a priest.
See the tour schedule with contact information directions at the Saint Pio Foundation website.