Easter Letter 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 Risen Lord grant you his peace!

So much time has elapsed since I last wrote you.† I have had the pleasure of speaking with a number of you by phone, hearing about the good things that the groups are accomplishing by Godís grace and your commitment to the spirit of Padre Pio, as well as responding to the needs of groups in the process of being established. Because there are a number of things that I would like you to know, I have written this letter more as a report, hoping to make it less wordy than it could be. Please bear with me. Hopefully, communications from the Office of the National Director will be more frequent from now on.

New address of National Director - As you can see from the letterhead, I am no longer at Saint Annís Parish in Hoboken. Since December of 2003, I am stationed at St.Francis Renewal Center in Wilmington, Delaware. Change of place may bring about a change of pace in what we do in our lives but they need not necessarily change our involvements in certain things. My work with the Padre Pio Prayer Groups continues well, and as you will note further, we are progressing.

Letter of Archbishop DíAmbrosio to National Director (quick summary) - Several weeks ago I received letters by fax from Archbishop Domenico Umberto DíAmbrosio, Director General of the Prayer Groups. He thanked me for accepting to be National Director of the Prayer Groups in the USA and appointed me to the General Council of the Prayer Groups. Archbishop DíAmbrosio spoke of his concern for the Prayer Groups in the USA and offered several suggestions. Although the Archbishopís letters were addressed to me personally, I wanted to share a few points with you so that we can all realize the gift that our Prayer Groups are for the Church and for each one of us personally.

1. Archbishop DíAmbrosio spoke of his visit in August 2003 and his encounters with several Prayer Groups in the USA. He was pleased at the love and enthusiasm he saw in the USA for Padre Pio. The new groups that are springing up around the country are a special joy for him, as well as for all. He also realized that because of the vast territory covered by our nation, it is not an easy task to keep abreast of what is happening in all the prayer groups around the USA. It is an imperative for all of us, and me as National Director, to ensure, as best we can, that the Prayer Groups be faithful to the original desires and spirit of Padre Pio.

2. Considering the vast territory of our nation, Monsignor asked that we begin to work toward a type of Ďregionalizationí of our Prayer Groups. This suggestion made me quite happy, because it only confirms the process that we already set in motion last year. Now we need to work on this process with commitment and enthusiasm. I firmly believe that this would definitely bring us closer together and more united as one family of prayer and service in the name of Padre Pio, faithful to the Magisterium of the Church (Holy Father, Bishops, Teachings of the Church), committed to our Catholic Christian life enhanced for us by an acceptance of what the Statutes of the Prayer Groups expect from those who want to be spiritual children of Padre Pio.

Information request - There is something I would like to ask concerning existing Prayer Groups and newly forming ones. You alone can assist me in this matter. We need clarity, consistency and continuity in the information we have concerning the Prayer Groups around the USA and the regular communications we share among ourselves and with International and National Offices. Without your input there is no information to communicate to San Giovanni Rotondo, nor can I share the good things that are happening all over our country with all of you; regular input to the National Director is also essential to assist me in keeping our USA files up-to-date.

1. Existing groups - I ask you who are group leaders to please check the files of your particular group. Make sure you have a copy of your official registration and certificate (or letter) of confirmation from the International Headquarters in San Giovanni Rotondo for your group. The certificate (or letter) of confirmation should be signed by the International Director - whoever he was at the time your registration was submitted - and come from his Office at the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza. Please remember, the confirmation from the International Director of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, in this case Mons. DíAmbrosio or who for him, validly confirms a Prayer Group as belonging to the International family of Padre Pioís Spiritual Children and makes them sharers in the spiritual benefits the Church has granted the Prayer Groups. I do not think that any of you receiving this letter have any problem here, but I ask that you please check your files just to be sure. Kindly forward a copy of the registration and certificate (or letter) of confirmation to me at the address noted above, if you have not already done so. I thank you ahead of time for any inconvenience this might cause you.

2. Spiritual practices and requisites of the prayer groups - It is not difficult to fulfill the spiritual and bureaucratic requisites of the Prayer Groups, but it can be when we begin to add other devotions and practices to what is requested by the Statutes.† We should strive first to intensify what are the basics required for everyone, before we seek to embellish with added particular devotions, prayers and practices that might distort the united expressions of the Prayer groups. In order to ensure unity in our diversity, all we have to do is read the Statutes and abide by them. It might be a good idea to read sections of them once in a while at the monthly meeting and reflect and comment on them. The spiritual children of Padre Pio are called to become bright lights of faith, hope and charity shining in a world often darkened by compromise or outright denial of God-centered values and principles.† As each group grows in its commitment to the Gospel, the Eucharist, Our Lady, the Church and her Hierarchy, and in Charity to all of Godís children especially those who suffer, this dream of Padre Pio, and of Jesus Himself, will become a reality. We are called to be living messages of Godís love encouraging others to see how good the Lord is, and leading them to take refuge in him . †† Our holy founder, Padre Pio, in the footsteps of Jesus and St. Francis, has offered us a way to come closer to God and each other, and to make the world (our own little worlds: home, neighborhood, parish, etc.) a better place.†† Let us do well what we believe God calls us to do by first being faith-filled Catholic Christians who are proud to stand up, stand out, and stand for that God who "so loved the world that He gave us His only Son so that whoever believes in him might have life everlasting."

3. New groups forming There are a number of new groups forming throughout the USA. Their organizers contacted me and are following the procedures stipulated in the Statutes. But it has also come to my attention that there are other groups devoted to Padre Pio.† They call themselves Padre Pio Prayer Groups but are not registered at the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza. If you are aware of any of these groups, or even people who may have expressed a desire to form a group, please give them the address of the National Director and ask them to contact me. Some groups have affiliated themselves to some religious house or rectory, and because the local priest has accepted to let them gather for prayer in the name of Padre Pio, they mistakenly believe that they are official Prayer Groups, some without the approval of the local bishop, which is essential. You do not need certificates or letters to receive Godís graces, but to share in the spiritual benefits of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups and to be Spiritual Children of Padre Pio, the registration is necessary and the National Office should be the intermediary with the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza. How wonderful it would be to see our groups grow throughout our country and become the spiritual force they were intended to be!

Regional map and addresses of local prayer groups †- Enclosed with this letter is a map of the USA indicating the Prayer Group regions and a legend identifying the states in each region. Also included is a listing of existing official Prayer Groups in the USA taken from our database. I want to thank the lay leaders who so kindly accepted my invitation to act as Lay Co-ordinators for their specific regions. The situation is a little more difficult and it will take more time to find a priest who can be available and willing to be Regional Spiritual Director.† The process will be slow, but it can and should be done. There are some technicalities that eventually must be met. For now we have put the process in motion.

Web site and E-Mail communications person All of you will continue to receive communications from me by regular mail. However, the Office of the National Director now has a web site. The site is intended only as a Ďfunctionalí site to assist with basic communications from and with the National Director and with providing information regarding the forming of Prayer Groups and the locations of existing groups. † Links found at the site will connect the user to other already established sites. Hopefully, I will be able to include on the website not just the letters you will receive from the National Directorís Office but other pertinent information as well. Since we have a web site, I would like to also suggest that each group designate an individual who has computer access to be the Communications Person for the group. This would facilitate easier and more immediate communication with everyone. The position would involve checking the website on a regular basis for new postings from the National Director. This would not be an official position envisioned by the Statutes, but it is one that would facilitate communications and information. Please consider including this position in your Prayer Group. Although we may not be able to implement this in all the Prayer Groups, I hope that we can at least begin with some. The computer addresses are the following:

(Web site)

† (E-Mail address for the Office of the National Director)

By the time you receive this letter, we will be celebrating the Easter joy of Jesusí Resurrection. Padre Pio, the living crucifix that he was blessed to be for all, is the one whom we seek to emulate and imitate as best we can given our own particular vocations in life. He, like all the saints, calls us to a deeper relationship with our loving God.† We see the depths of Godís love on Golgotha and are reminded of the Eternal Life God promises us on Easter Sunday. † When we learn how to live Jesus in our hearts and in our lives, then it is that Life becomes more meaningful and worth living. Padre Pio bore the signs of the cross on his body for so many years but lived in the inner light of the Resurrection until he was called to share it fully in heaven. May this Easter bring us the gifts that Jesus offered His first followers that first Easter Sunday:1) Peace with God, ourselves and each other; 2) Pardon of our sins for those who cooperate with His grace; and 3) the Paraclete, the Gift of the Father, Whose breath gives life, light and love to those whose hearts are available to his prompting.

You were all remembered especially in my prayers and Masses during the Holy Triduum and at Easter, and I keep you all in my prayers and Masses each day. Please remember me in yours.

God bless you, Our Lady protect you, and Padre Pio look over all of us his spiritual children with loving care. Happy Easter!

Easter Blessings of Peace and Joy!

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