HNP Today asked ministries throughout the Province, especially those named for the patron saint, to share how they celebrated the June 13 feast day.
NEW YORK — The feast of St. Anthony fell on a Sunday this year, giving parishes and ministries an opportunity to celebrate a special weekend Mass, in addition to handing out traditional St. Anthony bread, placing statues and holding other festivities.
St. Anthony Shrine in Boston held a pasta dinner, ministry expo and street fair that raised almost $100,000 to benefit the shrine’s Franciscan Food Center and Baby Place.
The annual event, held on June 12 with the “Mangia! Mangia!” dinner and on June 13 with the ministry expo and street fair, is always a welcome event in downtown Boston. “It was a real community builder,” said David Convertino, OFM, director of the shrine. The Boston Herald wrote about the dinner, and Fox 25 TV-News covered the street fair. In addition, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino stopped by.
Diners purchased $15 tickets for the meal, which included pasta Bolognese, salad, beverage, and dessert. David emceed a “Free the Friar” game, according to John Maganzini, OFM, vicar. “It was a lot of fun,” said John. Philip O’Shea, OFM, was the first friar to be released from his table amid much cheering.
Attendes also purchased “Freeze Frame” blocks on stretched canvas to memorialize loved ones or send congratulatory messages. The Freeze Frame canvases will hang on the wall of the Food Center.
With donations expected to come in all month, proceeds will be used to purchase a walk-in commercial freezer, a teaching kitchen area, and staples for the Franciscan Food Center that currently services approximately 4,000 people per month, according to Diane Monaghan, director of development for St. Anthony Shrine.
Rain forced the ministry expo and street fair to be held in the shrine’s auditorium. Free hot dogs, ice cream and doughnuts were served, artwork was displayed, and balloon animals and give-a-ways were handed out. The shrine’s Wellness Center offered free screenings and all ministries of St. Anthony Shrine had booths to distribute materials and explain the programs.
Upstate New York
St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Yulan, N.Y., celebrated its namesake’s feast day with a Mass.
“Following Mass, we had prayer in honor of the saint, and then incensed the relic of our saint and venerated the relic,” said pastor Anthony Moore, OFM. “Ordinarily, we have special bread to bless and distribute, along with a little breakfast in the church hall. But this year, as it was a Sunday, we had a Mass. We are blessed to have St. Anthony as our patron saint.”
New York City
At St. Francis of Assisi Church, friars assisted by a large number of lay volunteers handed out bags containing St. Anthony’s Bread. The lower church at the busy West 31st Street hub is the national shrine of St. Anthony. More than 65,000 small loaves were distributed Sunday afternoon and all day Monday. The annual event is organized by Thomas Walters, OFM. Besides the friars attached to the chuch, Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, Provincial Secretary Michael Harlan, OFM, and vocation director Brian Smail, OFM, also helped in the distribution.
This custom goes back to the mid 13th century when a child nearly drowned near the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua as it was still being built. The child’s mother besought St. Anthony, promising that if her child was restored to life, she would give to the poor an amount of wheat equal to the weight of her child. Of course, her son was saved and the promise was kept. St. Anthony’s Bread, then, is the promise of giving alms in return for a favor asked of God through the saint’s intercession. In some places, the custom has a literal parallel in that loaves of bread might be blessed and given away at church or, generally, to the poor. (More information about the tradition can be found in the summer 2008 issue of The Anthonian.)
The community of St. Anthony of Padua in Camden, N.J., where Jud Weiksnar, OFM, is pastor, held a picnic to celebrate the feast of its patron. Additionally, John C. Coughlin, OFM, blessed bread that was distributed at Sunday’s Masses.
In August, the friars of St. Anthony’s Guild, based in East Rutherford, N.J., will celebrate Mass for the birthday of St. Anthony in honor of Guild members. “Many people care about the poor. But Guild members go a step further, putting their faith into action and reach out to others with kindness and compassion,” said Joseph Hertel, OFM, director of the guild.
The community of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Greenville, S.C., where Patrick Tuttle, OFM, is pastor, placed a statue and flowers for the feast. The church continued to honor its namesake throughout the week.
The photo above shows Dominic Monti and a volunteer at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan. The rear photos show celebrations of the feast in Boston, New York and Camden, N.J.
— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today.