NEW YORK — As they do each year on June 13, thousands of visitors came to the Church of St. Francis of Assisi on West 31st street and other parishes and ministries of the Province to celebrate the Feast of St. Anthony. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., they came to participate in Mass or a devotion in honor of St. Anthony, and to receive blessed St. Anthony bread, St. Anthony medals, prayer cards, and blessed St. Anthony’s oil.
Thomas Walters, OFM, who supervises the distribution of the bread, said that 82,000 rolls were given out that Friday. Tables were set up at the West 32nd Street courtyard behind the church and on West 31st Street in front of the church where friars and lay volunteers greeted visitors. Jerome Massimino, OFM, the pastor and guardian, said that all of the friars helped with the church’s feast day events. For Stephen Mimnaugh, OFM, who will be leaving 31st Street after his year-long internship, this was one of the last big events.
“It was a great day,” Thomas said. “With the great assistance and partnering from Vincent Pisani, we are able to lead the charge in organizing 107 volunteers plus friars who lend a hand throughout the day with all kinds of activities and liturgical events including confessions, administering the Relic, blessings of people and objects, and chatting with visitors.”
“One woman told me she lost her cherished rosary beads only moments before so she prayed to St. Anthony and she found them at the foot of his statue where she had been passing by in prayer and must have dropped them inadvertently,” he added.
Russell Becker, OFM, director of the Province’s Franciscan Missionary Union, and Anthony LoGalbo, OFM, director of the Center for Franciscan Spirituality and Spiritual Direction at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, spoke at all the Masses at 31st Street. Their homilies brought to completion the Thirteen Tuesdays devotion that the two friars had offered before the feast day.
Some of the other Province churches that distributed bread on the feast of St, Anthony were St. Bonaventure Church, Paterson, N.J., St. Francis Chapel in Providence, and St. Anthony Shrine in Boston.
Information about the life of St. Anthony and the traditions affiliated with him can be found in the Summer 2008 issue of The Anthonian.