On Sunday, June 12, pilgrims by the hundreds descended upon the Holy Mountain for the first full-scale, in-person celebration of the Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua at Graymoor since before the pandemic in 2019. Those who came out to celebrate and honor the patron saint of loss and recovery had a joyous and enlivening spiritual experience. 

Deacon Tom Rich, TSA, spoke with several of the pilgrims in attendance. Some told stories about their lives. Others expressed how much St. Anthony means to them.

“I love their devotion,” Deacon Tom said. “It was fun and fulfilling to interact with all these people and provide them with a spiritual service that they all enjoyed.”

The day began with 11 a.m. Mass at Our Lady of the Atonement Chapel celebrated by Father Dan Callahan, SA. Afterward, Father Dan greeted pilgrims outside the chapel.

“It was a joyful celebration. I really enjoyed talking to all these people after Mass,” Father Dan said. “There were a lot of new faces, but I got to know them quickly. It was fun.”

Father Dan added that the pilgrims graced him with their kind words, with many telling him that his homily “touched them” and that his preaching was “exactly what they were looking for.”

After the Mass celebrated by Father Dan, the Friars greeted and blessed the pilgrims, and Father Emil Tomaskovic, SA, and Father Damien MacPherson, SA, heard confessions of those seeking the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Father Emil was pleased to see the pilgrims return and feel their presence at Graymoor once again. 

“It was good to see people back on the mountain,” Father Emil said. “Those who came were full of happiness, gratitude and peace and a sense that this was a special place for them to celebrate ‘their saint,’ Saint Anthony, who they ask to intervene on their behalf to have their prayers answered.”

Father Jean-Ridly Julien, a Catholic Priest and the chaplain at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia Irving Medical Center, celebrated a second Mass in Creole at 1:30 p.m. for the large contingent of Haitian pilgrims who traveled to the Holy Mountain.

After Mass, Father Julien and his concelebrants led a procession of the faithful before the Blessed Sacrament to St. Anthony’s Shrine, followed by a closing benediction. 

“The people of Haiti celebrate the Feast of Saint Anthony in a lively, joyous and spirit-filled way,” said Deacon Tom. “It’s wonderful that Graymoor can provide a home for the Haitian community and so many others in our area to celebrate their deep devotion to Saint Anthony.” 

The Graymoor Book and Gift Center set up a tent outside Our Lady of the Atonement Chapel, where they briskly sold Saint Anthony items, Mass cards, statues, apparel and more. Visitors had the opportunity to light candles and place them before the candle shrine at Saint Anthony’s Grotto as they sought his intercession for their prayer intentions.