Ministries Celebrate the Wonderworker of Padua

Maria Hayes Around the Province

The ominous reputation of Friday the 13th did nothing to dampen the spirits of the Franciscans, who celebrated the feast of St. Anthony that day.

Hundreds came to venerate a precious relic of St. Anthony at St. Francis Church in New York City. Friars from the basilica in Padua, Italy, brought the relics to various parishes in the New York City area as part of the feast day celebrations. St. Francis Church was the only one to host the relic on the feast day itself.

In addition to visiting the relics, parish friars and staff members set up tables on both West 31st and 32nd Streets to distribute thousands of bags of blessed bread to passersby and parishioners alike. The church also celebrated 13 Masses and devotions in honor of the saint throughout the day.

St. Anthony Shrine in Boston distributed more than 3,000 rolls to visitors and pedestrians on the surrounding streets of the ministry center in Downtown Crossing. “The Shrine’s patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua, was renowned for his compassion for the poor of this world,” stated the shrine’s website. “We distribute bread every year on St. Anthony’s feast as a reminder of our common obligation to care for the poor.”

In New Jersey, bright festivities accompanied the “Fiesta de San Antonio” on June 14 at St. Anthony Parish in Camden. Parishioners carried a large statue of St. Anthony adorned with lilies throughout the surrounding neighborhood, before returning to the church, where loaves of bread were blessed and distributed.

Afterward came the festival, complete with singers, Aztec dancers and performances by the St. Anthony students. The pastor, Jud Weiksnar, OFM, along with Hugh Macsherry, OFM, took turns in the “Dunk the Monk” tank, where they were repeatedly plummeted into a tub of water, much to the delight of their parishioners. Casey Cole, Karl Koenig, OFM, and Juan Turcios, OFM, of St. Anthony’s were also in attendance, as well as Michael Duffy, OFM, and Xavier De La Huerta, OFM, from St. Francis Inn, Philadelphia, and George Camacho, OFM, of St. Francis Parish, New York City.

Those participating gave a special blessing to Jud, who is concluding his nine-year term as pastor this year. He will become the guardian of St. Patrick Friary in Buffalo, N.Y.

 Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.