Monthly Letter
October 2004
Padre Pio Prayer Groups
Office of the National Director

St. Francis Renewal Center
1901 Prior Road
Wilmington, Delaware 19809

Dear Spiritual Children and Friends of Padre Pio,

The Lord give you His peace!

What a wonderful day October the ninth was for me! The weather was not that great. The drive was long, and most of it, until the last twenty minutes, was in the fog. But, it was a great day because I finally was able to see so many of our Prayer Group members gathered for the Padre Pio Day of Recollection at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in West Hempstead, Long Island. Allow me also to congratulate and commend Maria Milone, who managed so well the Padre Pio Prayer Group Office for the USA during the years that there was no National Director, for her faithfulness and commitment to this special day in honor of Padre Pio. Maria organized it and "made it happen" with the help of a number of dedicated people and the encouragement and support of Monsignor James Lisante, the pastor of the Parish of St Thomas the Apostle.

It was my privilege that day to have finally been able to meet Monsignor Domenico D'Ambrosio, in person. Monsignor D'Ambrosio, as we all know, is Archbishop of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, Papal Delegate for the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza and the Shrine and Works of Padre Pio, and General Director of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups. Don Vincenzo D'Arenzo accompanied Monsignor on his USA visit. Don Vincenzo is the Vice General Director of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups. Both Monsignor D'Ambrosio and Don Vincenzo were genuinely appreciative and encouraged by all they heard and saw on their brief visit to the United States. Monsignor Lisante, pastor of St. Thomas, was most gracious and welcoming; his reflection on Padre Pio, delivered during the celebration of the Eucharist, was a superb meditation, delivered eloquently yet simply enough for all of us to grasp and enjoy.

The day passed quickly. Unfortunately, I was not able to meet most of the people there. There was just no real opportunity to get to speak with most of the people who came for the day. The time spent with Monsignor D'Ambrosio and Don Vincenzo was very rewarding for me. Monsignor made it known that the course we, as a national group, have taken this past year and a half, is what Monsignor was hoping we would begin to do, that is: set up regions across the USA, appoint regional lay co-ordinators and spiritual directors, communicate more between the National Director and the various Groups - even if at present only through letters and telephone conversations, etc. There are a number of other things that we still have to work on in order to strengthen ourselves as Padre Pio's Spiritual Children called to fulfill a very important mission. Our mission is to be an active presence of well-formed Catholics who make their faith come alive where they live.

In the forthcoming months I hope to be able to elaborate on ways that I believe can help us accomplish this mission. It is my hope and prayer that the matters about which I will reflect with you in my upcoming letters might be discussed at your monthly meetings so that you can send me feedback. We are like glowing embers waiting to be fanned into flame. Let's not be afraid or hesitant to confront the challenges to grow and glow. In seeing us, may others see the shining image of a Catholic in love with his/her God, Catholic Faith and his/her sisters and brothers. Padre Pio, answering the call of Pope Pius XII, established the Groups as powerhouses of prayer and service. As Saint Francis said to his first followers: Let us start, for up to now we have done so little.

One of the things I noticed at the October gathering at St. Thomas' Church was the enthusiasm, sincere devotion and genuine love everyone expressed for Padre Pio. There was a joy at just being together to hear about Padre Pio and to share how God touched their lives through him. This enthusiasm and joy should continue in our daily lives. The Eucharist, Rosary, and Reflection we share in our Groups every month are supposed to be the unifying experience that we bring with us. This experience should encourage us to strengthen our personal prayer life and urge us to be more Christ like with everyone we meet, until we gather for the next monthly meeting. As we share the good things of the past month and move forward as Spiritual Children of Padre Pio filled with the Spirit of God, we offer a message of Peace and Blessings (Pace e Bene - Pax et Bonum) to others.

October has been designated Respect Life Month and it is also traditionally the month of the Most Holy Rosary of Our Lady. This year, October marked the beginning of the Year of the Eucharist, proclaimed by our Holy Father Pope John Paul II to rekindle in all the faithful a renewed spirit of love and adoration for the Divine Presence from whom the Church receives her strength and direction. By the time you get this letter the month will be practically over. But, that does not eliminate our need to reflect on all these issues that we, as Spiritual Children of Padre Pio, should hold dear to our hearts.

The most precious gift God has given us is the gift of his Love and life. Every life, no matter how affected by Original Sin, is a precious gift. The child of God is called to a glory equal to that of the great people of our salvation history. We, as Spiritual Children of Padre Pio, and above all as Children of God, should never pull back from taking a stand for life. We live in times when the value of human life is cheapened. Life is seen only in its usefulness or according to its convenience for another. I really believe that this whole push that has been going on around the world, especially in the developed countries and those that profess a belief in "no God", is a sign of the evil one trying to destroy any sense of respect and dignity for the human person. When we allow ourselves to be seduced in this way, we let go of the principles and values in which our lives are rooted, and eventually let go of God in our lives. We have to refocus on who is alive within us, so that spirit of the world around us does not overtake us and lead us to self destruction.

October is also the month dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary of Our Lady. What more wonderful way to reflect on the beauty of life than by reflecting, meditating, and celebrating the greatest life that ever lived - the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When we pray the Rosary, we look at the life of Jesus through the eyes of His Mother, whom He gave to us as our own Mother. Through her, Jesus becomes our brother. As members of the same family, adopted in Christ and washed in His blood, we see ourselves on a journey no different from His own, and called to a glory we could never imagine, had He not spoken to us about it. The Rosary offers us an intimate sharing in the life of Jesus with Mary. We journey through the joys of discovery at life's early stages, through the fulfilling moments of young adulthood and the successes of life at its peak, into the difficult and at times sorrowful events of life's declining experiences and years, to the glorious fulfillment of life's journey for all who have kept close to God during their pilgrimage through time.

The Rosary is a celebration of life. It celebrates not that One Solitary Life alone, but the life of each and every one of us. Mary's presence allows us to embrace life with the added affection and love of a Mother who encourages us to move forward in joy, is proud of our successes, comforts us in our sorrows, and shares with us the happiness of a life fulfilled and the eternal glory offered us when we finally arrive Home. The Rosary helps us to reflect upon every life as the gift that it is. The mystery of life that happens in love is one that appears as a miracle explained biologically by science but unfathomable scientifically, when we reflect upon the infinite ramifications each life holds from the first moment it begins to exist until its fulfillment in eternity. We are images of that One Great Life we celebrate each time we pray (not just say) the Rosary.

Padre Pio loved the Rosary so much. It was the spiritual weapon he always carried with him. It was this glorious chain that linked his life with His Mother, who then, in her love, bound Him to Jesus. The more he reflected on Jesus through Mary, the more his life was able to touch the lives of others with that powerful presence that he celebrated each day in the Eucharist. The Rosary continued in the simple prayer of his heart that which he celebrated in mystery at the altar. Padre Pio's Mass reminds us that we are one with Christ Who became one with us in His humanity. How then can life be taken so lightly, treated so casually, or destroyed so terribly?

My dear Spiritual Children and Friends of Padre Pio, let us thank God for the gift he has given us of Himself in Jesus, of His Mother to help us see Him and each other reflected in His image, and Padre Pio who encourages us to love Mary, and through her to come to Jesus, Whose Life is imaged in every life that lives, from conception to natural death.

May God bless you, our Lady guide, guard and protect you, and Padre Pio watch over all of you, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.

Peace and Blessings,

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.
National Director