by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, the famed Italian stigmatist more popularly known as Padre Pio, knew quite a bit about suffering.
Not only did his body bear the physical signs of the crucified Christ, he was in poor health nearly all his life and experienced spiritual suffering as well.
The sick and suffering of the archdiocese will have a special opportunity to venerate a first-class relic of the saint during a conference and Mass for the sick and suffering on March 5 at St. James Academy, 24505 Prairie Star Pkwy., Lenexa.
The conference is cosponsored by St. James Academy and the School of Faith. The building is handicapped accessible, and the event is open to individuals, as well as their family members, who are experiencing any sort of illness and suffering. The suffering could be from any trial or difficulty in life. The event is open to all.
“Suffering does not confine itself to physical suffering,” said Sister Christa Marie, FSGM, president of St. James Academy. “If we have unemployed people, they are suffering. If we have people who are going through divorce, they are suffering.”
Members of the St. James Academy Padre Pio student community will be there to assist people throughout the morning.
Those who attend will also have an opportunity to meet with Antony D’Andrea, an American third cousin of Padre Pio, who lives in New York. His family has the relic: some of Padre Pio’s blood that is contained in a locket that was once owned by Mary Pyle, an American spiritual daughter of Padre Pio.
“Having a first-class relic of Padre Pio is something that’s very special,” said Sister Christa Marie. “It is here for one time. And it’s a beautiful part of our faith to venerate the relics of the saints who have preceded us and have been known for having a unique quality.”
The day will begin at 8:30 a.m. with registration, a reception and an introduction of D’Andrea.
Next, there will be two 30-minute talks. The first, at 9 a.m., is entitled “Redemptive Suffering: A Gift From God,” by Steve Wisdom. He is the father of Brooks Wisdom, a St. James Academy student who died in 2008 at the age of 18 before graduation.
“He was a member of the founding class of St. James,” said Sister Christa Marie.
Following this will be another 30-minute talk, entitled “End of Life Issues and Hospice Care,” by Father Gary Pennings, vicar general of the archdiocese. Father Pennings is a former paramedic and emergency medical services administrator in Johnson County.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann will be the main celebrant of a votive Mass for the sick at 11 a.m.
“The archbishop will include a blessing for the sick and suffering at the conclusion of the Mass,” said Sister Christa. “Afterwards, the archbishop will enthrone the relic of Padre Pio’s blood, which is encased in a locket. . . . The relic will be enthroned and available to people [for veneration], and we will keep it open until 3 p.m.”
After the enthronement of the relic, there will be a lunch for participants.
People who want to participate in the day’s events have three options, said Sister Christa. First, they can attend the morning conferences for a $25 fee that includes lunch. Second, they can come at 11 a.m. just for the Mass and the enthronement. Third, they can stop by in the afternoon to venerate the relic.
“We will take walk-ins,” said Sister Christa.
For information about the day or to register, go to the Web sites at: www.sja keepingfaith.org or www.schooloffaith. com, or call Linda White at (913) 254- 4200.