Deacon Tom Rich, TSA, once visited San Giovanni Rotondo, the hometown of St. Pio of Pietrelcina.

A spiritual feeling came over Deacon Tom when he visited the tomb of Saint Pio, who is known more popularly as Padre Pio, an Italian-born Franciscan Friar, priest, stigmatist and mystic.

It was fantastic because they have him in a glass coffin in the chapel. It was just amazing to see him because he is not corrupted,” Deacon Tom said. “It was just amazing to see this man, in his habit. You just feel a presence, you’re in the presence of a saint. It’s very moving.”

Deacon Tom’s devotion to Padre Pio led to an idea for a celebration, and the Society of the Atonement will indeed honor the saint.

A Celebration of St. Padre Pio is planned for Saturday, September 24 at Graymoor. The festivity will be similar to the Friars’ St. Anthony’s Day Celebration, which took place in June.

Deacon Tom, the Executive Director of the Holy Mountain Franciscan Retreat Center, hopes the event takes off and becomes an annual tradition.

We’re hoping that it will catch on so that it will be a yearly event,” he said. “It will be a great opportunity to celebrate Padre Pio.”

The celebration is scheduled to begin with a Mass in Italian at 11 a.m., at Our Lady of the Atonement Chapel. It will be followed by the blessing of a new statue of Padre Pio, which will be donated by one of the Tertiaries and arrive before the day of the celebration.

Pilgrims will then be able to explore the grounds and visit the many chapels and shrines on Graymoor’s campus. Guests can also enjoy a picnic on site, and are invited to purchase food from food trucks or bring their own eatables.

Everyone will also be invited to purchase gifts from the Graymoor Book and Gift Center, which offers a plethora of souvenirs and goods. Cards for holidays of all religions and celebrations; statues; rosaries; crosses; special recovery medallions and religious coins; prayer cards; CDs and DVDs on meditation; and artistic photos of all the landmarks on the Graymoor campus are among the store’s best sellers.

Padre Pio was a Franciscan Friar born on May 25, 1887. He became most known for bearing the Holy Stigmata, the wounds of Jesus Christ. He also had the ability to bilocate and read the thoughts of others. He died on September 23, 1968 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 16, 2002.

“He was a great spiritual director. A great confessor for many people,” Deacon Tom said of Padre Pio. “He went through many trials and tribulations. But he is a great saint of the church and the church proclaimed him to be a saint, that he lived a virtuous life.”

The Celebration of Padre Pio at Graymoor will take place a day before St. Christopher’s Inn’s “Be the Bridge: Walk for Recovery” at the Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie. Click here to register for the walk or to donate.

Those interested in attending the Celebration of Padre Pio can contact Deacon Tom at trich@atonementfriars.org.

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