Ministries Commemorate Saint Anthony

Rebecca Doel Features

Holy Name Province’s diverse ministries are celebrating Saint Anthony of Padua this month in a variety of ways. Those whose name includes the patron saint pay him special homage.

In Camden, N.J., the community of St. Anthony of Padua Church held a commemoration on the Delaware River on June 13, the saint’s feast day. “Celebrating the Life in St. Anthony’s,” a parish-wide event, included Mass directed by William “Jud” Weiksnar, OFM, pastor of St. Anthony. The weekend celebration was also joined by peace activist Louis Vitale, OFM, of Saint Barbara Province.

Boston Patron
In Boston, the friars at St. Anthony Shrine canceled their annual street fair due to inclement weather, but did not let that ruin their commemoration of this special day. The Shrine’s Web site honored the saint with information about his life and two activities the community would be doing to celebrate the feast: St. Anthony’s Bread and St. Anthony Lilies.

A card distributed by the Shrine explained the tradition of St. Anthony’s Bread. It read: “St. Anthony of Padua was known for his compassion for the poor and is often portrayed as giving bread to those in need. Over the years, the term St. Anthony’s Bread has come to mean either feeding the poor, literally — or donating money to a charity in thanksgiving for a favor granted. Traditionally, Franciscans worldwide distribute small loaves of bread on St. Anthony’s feast day to remind us to follow this holy person’s example.”

The Shrine’s Web site page also featured a video reflection on the tradition of St. Anthony from Hugh Macsherry, OFM, who was recently assigned to the Shrine.

Hugh said devotion to the patron saint of the lost, shipwreck victims and people looking for relationship is still relevant today. “There is the obvious connection of trying to find something or someone, or to be found,” he said. “Everyone knows what it’s like to lose something or someone, or to be lost. The tradition of St. Anthony speaks to that experience — even still to people today.”

The Shrine’s celebration of the feast also included two opportunities to learn about the life of St. Anthony through a guided tour of the stained glass windows in the second floor of the church. The tour explained the stories and symbols portrayed in 14 lancets in the windows.

Jackie Stewart, who led the guided tours, said both presentations were well-attended.

St. Francis of Assisi Parish, in Midtown Manhattan, a national shrine of St. Anthony,  held its traditional services including Mass, devotions in honor of St. Anthony and veneration of the saint’s relic. Volunteers distributed blessed St. Anthony’s Bread on June 12 and 13 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Prayer cards with the saint’s image were also distributed in eight different languages, and Masses on the feast day were celebrated in English, Korean, Spanish, French, Creole, Italian and Tagalog.

In an article in the summer 2008 issue of The Anthonian, St. Francis pastor Jerome Massimino, OFM, said the tradition many Province ministries have of distributing St. Anthony’s Bread is a way to give back.

“It is a simple sign of gratitude for the incredible generosity to the various ministries that serve the people who come from the entire metropolitan area,” he said, “and for that matter, all over the world.”

The summer 2009 issue of The Anthonian, the quarterly publication of St. Anthony’s Guild, was published this month. The cover story is about St. Francis Breadline, in New York, which is nearly 80 years old. The issue also features the friars’ work in Lima, Peru, a reflection by Russell Becker, OFM, about the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, and a list of Guild members who have chosen to remember the Franciscans in their wills or other estate planning.

At St. Anthony of Padua parish in Greenville, S.C., the community plans to celebrate both the Feast of St. Anthony and Juneteenth on June 19 with a soul food family reunion. Pastor Patrick Tuttle, OFM, said the event includes games, music, prayer, speeches, cultural dances and sharing bread.

At other parishes around the Province, celebrations were “relatively subdued” due to the feast’s falling on a Saturday.

At St. Anthony’s Parish in Butler, N.J., pastor John Leonard, OFM, said traditional loaves of St. Anthony’s Bread were blessed at the daily Mass and distributed to parishioners and guests. In addition, medals and holy cards bearing the likeness of the saint were handed out. A reception in honor of the parish’s patron was hosted by Secular Franciscans as well.

St. Anthony Church in Yulan, N.Y., where Anthony Moore, OFM, is pastor, also blessed and distributed breads and venerated the parish’s relic of St. Anthony.

Shown in photo is Thomas Walters, OFM, who supervises the distribution of St. Anthony’s Bread in New York, with a volunteer on June 12. In photo behind, Jud Weiksnar talks to altar servers before Mass begins.

Rebecca Doel is communcations coordinator for Holy Name Province.