Padre Pio Prayer Groups USA

Articles 2, 3, 4 and 5


Art. 2 – The Prayer Groups are composed of members of the faithful, who try to respond to Christ’s invitation to pray, as reiterated by various Pontiffs.

Could you not pray one hour with me? Watch and pray that you not be put to the test.Adherents to our Association are Roman Catholics who have heard thisquestion Jesus posed to His Apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane. First, we accept the request to spend time in prayer with the Savior (i.e. before the Blessed Sacrament, anything otherwise should be a sporadic exception and not the rule).  Secondly, we respond to the desire of the Holy Father for children of the Church to dedicate themselves to a deeper spirit of prayer and reflection, united in prayer.

They are to be erected in a Church, or oratory or a place approved by the local Ordinary.

The Prayer Groups are expected to have as their gathering site a place of prayer where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. This is always done with the direct or indirect knowledge and approval of the local Ordinary. The knowledge of the Ordinary is implied by the approval of the Group by the local Ordinary to establish itself in a given place and by the approval of the priest Spiritual Director to direct the Group (The Pastor or Rector of the Church or Chapel to be used must give permission for the use of the space, especially if the Spiritual Director of the Group is neither the Pastor nor Rector. This is not a superfluous comment.  There have been certain instances where devotional “stand-offs” took place – no Masses involved – where some sought to assert their right to be in their Parish Church. Total cooperation with Church authority and compliance with their directives is a “sine qua non”, an essential, for each group.)

They assemble at regular intervals under the guidance of a Spiritual Director to pray and to draw others to pray in communion with the Hierarchy and in accordance with the spirituality of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

Consistency favors pattern, and patterns favor habits, and habits allow things to continue with aregularity, and regularity helps those who follow this pattern to let whatever it is they are doing to become, as it were, second nature to then.  We are working to make adoration, prayer and reflection a good habit that stays with us always.  We do this with one who, prepared in the ways of the Spiritual Life can be a credible guide and indicator in our spiritual journey.  This journey is always in harmony with the Church Magisterium, and never to be developed according to a particular pious individual’s or religious group’s personal devotional desires or whims.  We are asked to follow the simple yet profound directives of Padre Pio.

The members of the Groups shall consider the study of Catholic doctrine in groups, as part of their spiritual formation.

Ignorance is dangerous, especially when we have the tools necessary to inform and form us to better levels of knowledge.  The Prayer Groups were formed as powerhouses of prayer and faith. As individuals gather in the Prayer Groups there is a need to continue to grow in the knowledge and practice of the faith. Knowledge comes through reflection and instruction.  This element should never be eliminated from the monthly gathering.  Nor should the monthly gathering be reduced to just a business meeting.  The Spiritual Director is there to direct the points discussed, to clarify confused issues and comments, and to insure that Catholic teachings and beliefs are upheld, understood and followed. (This was a must with Padre Pio.  Without faithfulness to the Magisterium of the Church, one cannot be a Spiritual Child of Padre Pio and true Prayer Group member.)  Formation in the faith is an integral part of our Prayer Group charism.

They shall also take the initiative in promoting and assisting the work of evangelization and play their full part in the various pastoral activities of the local Church.

Prayer that remains a personal good feeling, but does not affect the lives of others, is like the lukewarmness of the Church of Laodicea found in the Book of Revelation.  This type of person is happy to feel good about his/her own prayers, but has no desire or is unwilling to be aware that prayer active and be an effective presence to others. We are called to pray so that our lives can be strengthened in all we do.  Then we are expected to bring what we have experienced and learned to touch the lives of others.  Once we do that, we bring our actions back to prayer.  This virtuous circle not only strengthens our prayer life, but it also builds up our spirit.

Art. 3 – Laity, as well as priests and religious, can be members of the Prayer Groups. Their names are to be inscribed in a suitable Register by the Spiritual Director.

There are no distinctions as to membership in the Prayer Groups, except for that of being Roman Catholic.  Since faithfulness to the Holy Father and his teaching is a requisite, it follows that all members must be Roman Catholic. [My own personal opinion on this matter is that anyone can be invited to pray with us and learn more about the Catholic faith that the Prayer Groups discuss every month, but full participation requires the ability to receive the Sacraments, something that only Roman Catholics can do.  However, we should also remember that if anyone is genuinely curious and attracted to the Group activities of prayer and sharing, that could be the Spirit’s way of leading them to a greater understanding of the Catholic expression of Christianity and to an acceptance of the faith].


Art. 4 – The International Association of the Prayer Groups is under the control of the Director General. He is the President for the time being (pro tempore) of the Foundation “Home for the Relief of Suffering” (Work of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina). He is nominated by the Cardinal Secretary of State, according to the statutes of the Foundation and has the rights and duties as specified in these statutes.

Wherever two people are gathered, you often have three opinions or more.  Every organization requires leadership and some point of direction and reference. Our Headquarters is the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza (House for the Relief of Suffering) founded and encouraged by our own Founder, Padre Pio.  He himself entrusted the work to the Holy See, thus all that emanates from the Casa Sollievo, i.e. the Prayer Groups, are directly under the Holy See and whomever the Holy Father, through His Secretary of State, appoints as His Delegate with full authority.  Other clerics appointed by the General Director, approved by the local Conference of Bishops and/or the local Ordinary are priest coordinators of the activities of the groups. [The matter of coordinators will be dealt with at its proper place later in the Statutes].  The General Director is directly responsible to the Holy See and has the ultimate word in all things that pertain to the Prayer Groupsaround the world.  We should all be respectful and attentive to the directives that our General Director offers us in the name of the Church.

Whenever the President for the time being (pro tempore) of the Foundation is not a priest, then the Office of Director of the Prayer Groups will be confided to a priest, nominated by the Cardinal Secretary of State.

In the absence of a President (because of  re-assignment, death, ill health, etc.) the Holy See may appoint a lay person to this office for a time.  This is an exception and only temporary.  The Holy See will confide the Office of General Director to a priest so that continuity as expressed by Padre Pio and the Church Universal can be followed until a definite appointment is made.

Art. 5 – There is a Director General’s Council. This is composed of the Director General and one or two Assistant Directors General, together with the Secretary General. The Director General is free to nominate the Secretary General and designates the Assistant Director General, having sought advice from the members of the General Council.

The Council is a consultative body that assists in the operation of the Association.  While the General Director acts on the authority of his office he listens to the suggestions and counsels of the members of the General Council, who inform him of the progress, activities, needs, etc. of the Prayer Groups around the world.

Included among the members of the General Council, by right, is the Father Guardian, for the time being (pro tempore), of the Monastery of the Capuchin Friars “Our Lady of Grace” of San Giovanni Rotondo.

The Guardian (term used by the Franciscan Order to designate the superior of a local friary) of the friary where Padre Pio lived and died is always a member of the General Council.  This ensures a Capuchin presence and a respectful remembrance of Padre Pio.

The other Councillors are designated by the General Direction, which chooses them from among the members of the more numerous groups from the various nations, and Continents.

Appointments to the General Council, made in view of the number of Groups in a given nation, afford the General Director with a clearer picture of what the accomplishments and needs are of the Groups in that nation.  The Councillors advise the General Director and work together in reviewing the progress of the Prayer Groups throughout the world and in planning ways to make the Prayer Groups more effective among themselves and in the nations where they exist.

Like the Assistant Directors they remain in office for five years and may be re-appointed for a further five.

This is a bureaucratic norm that insures continuity and stability.  The appointments are always made by the General Director.

The vote of the General Council is only consultative. It ought, however, be requested by the Director General when important work or initiatives are to be undertaken by the Prayer Groups.

Councillors do not make policy but they do inform, advise and assist the General Director and Council by presenting, explaining and helping him to see and understand situations from different perspectives so that a better view can be had of Prayer Groups worldwide.  Thus any decisions made will include all members, worldwide, and not be focused on a specific area alone.

The General Council is to meet once a year, and whenever the Director General supervises the normal functioning of the Prayer Groups.

Annual meetings of the General Council create a sense of unity and fraternity among the various national co-ordinators.  However, at any time the General Director can contact any one or more of the coordinators around the world to request information, clarify questions that may have arisen, or otherwise keep himself informed and prepared to fulfill his ministry as Papal Delegate and GeneralDirector of the Prayer Groups.

He will take particular care, to see that all adhere strictly to the teachings and directives of the Church, admonishing those who manifest attitudes that are opposed to ecclesial communion.

The expression ecclesial communion is another way of saying united and obedient to the teachings of the Church.  There arises at times among well-intentioned faithful a need to express themselves over and above what the Church expects from us in response to the Gospel imperative to go and make disciples of all nations.  The General Director is concerned not just that we be totally Catholic, obedient to the Church and Her Magisterium (the Pope and the Bishops in communion with Him), but that our fulfillment of the directives for the Prayer Groups be faithful to the norms laid out in the Statutes, so that we do not have structures added or created as new devotions that might render the prayerful and meditative moments of the Prayer Groups a burden rather than an uplifting prayerful experience that allows the time necessary for personal prayer and reflection.

Where necessary, he will propose to the Bishop responsible for the territory, the disbanding of any Group that fails in its duty of ecclesial communion.

In harmony with Padre Pio’s express wishes, any Prayer Group that seeks to set itself above the wishes or directives of the local ordinary can and should be disbanded.  Such an act is reserved to the General Director in San Giovanni Rotondo. Obviously, such an act would not take place without due process of information, dialogue, time for reflection, warnings and the like.  The disbanding is not an arbitrary imposition, unless the Group itself has disbanded and no longer is active.  In such a case, a statement to the fact should suffice to inform the General Director that a specific Prayer Group no longer exists and should be deleted from the active files.

The Director General, in so far as is necessary, can confer particular regional and national offices. In the conferring of these offices, and in their eventual revocation, he shall act in accord with the Competent Ecclesiastical Authorities.

Any establishment of national or regional offices is the competency of the General Director with the approval of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of a nation or the local ordinary respectively.

The duration of these appointments is to be indicated in the letter of nomination.

All appointments are subject to the supreme authority of the Church who is the last word in all that pertains to the Padre Pio Prayer Groups.  The General Director is the Delegate of the Holy See for all the Works and Shrine of Padre Pio.

At the end of each year, the Director General shall present to the Holy See a report of the Association’s activities, together with comments and suggestions that may seem opportune.

The General Director informs the Holy See on the progress and/or difficulties of the Prayer Groups.  He offers comments and suggestions.  These are the fruits of information he receives either personally through his own experience and contacts, or through information he receives from his collaborators throughout the world