Ground broken for St. Padre Pio Church

By  Emalyn Franco-Romano, Catholic Register Special
  • October 5, 2007
{mosimage}KLEINBURG, Ont. - As author, W.P. Kinsella, once wrote, “If you build it, they will come.” And these words so far have held true to the parishioners of St. Padre Pio Church.

On Sept. 23, hundreds of people gathered together not only to celebrate Mass, but also to lay claim to the grounds of the future site of St. Padre Church located at Islington Avenue and Major Mackenzie Drive in Kleinburg. The future church will be the first place of worship in Canada dedicated to St. Padre Pio.

People attended the special Mass in droves, many with shovels in their hands to be the first to lay the dirt on their new parish.

“What we’re seeing here today is the spirit of a community that is coming together to honour St. Padre Pio,” said Terry Tino, parishioner and one of the event co-ordinators at the parish. “It’s very exciting that this (church) will be the first church that is so named in honour of St. Padre Pio who is truly a world renowned saint.”

{sidebar id=1}Before being known as Padre Pio, the saint-to-be was born as Francesco in 1887 in the village of Pietrelcina in Italy. At an early age he was a devoted Christian, hence leading him into the priesthood. On Sept. 20, 1918, Padre Pio was kneeling in front of a large crucifix when he suddenly received the visible marks of the crucifixion on his hands, making him the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Catholic Church. He died in 1968 and the marks he carried for most of his life were no longer visible upon his death. In fact, no scars were found.

On June 16, 2002, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio.

On Sept. 24, 2005, the parish of St. Padre Pio was presented with a relic from the Capuchin Friars of San Giovanni in Rotondo, Italy. The relic is an actual glove of St. Padre Pio which has since become a symbol of faith for the parishioners and hence the future church.

“The future of our church will be a healing community, whether it be through prayer, through confession or through faith,” said Tino.

To date approximately $6.2 million has been raised toward the building of the church. The parish hopes to raise about $9 million. The tentative completion date is slated for 2009. Until that time, congregation members have attended Masses at St. Andrew’s School in Woodbridge.

The new building site is situated on 2.5 hectares of land and will include a chapel, a main hall, two large meeting rooms, a board room and a sacristy as well as many other features.

“This is one of the greatest moments of one’s life,” said Ben Virgillio, parishioner and chair of the fund-raising committee. “How often do you get to build a church from scratch?”

Fr. Gregory Ace, pastor of St. Padre Pio, took pride in the fact hundreds gathered together to witness the groundbreaking ceremony. He, along with Toronto Auxiliary Bishop Peter Hundt, helped bless the grounds.

“This groundbreaking ceremony has been something we have been waiting for,” said  Ace. “It’s wonderful to see such a great turnout.  Once the church is built I look forward to seeing this turnout again.”

For more information or to make a donation to the Padre Pio Church visit www.stpadrepiochurch.com or call (905) 893-7879.

(Franco-Romano is a freelance writer in Brampton, Ont.)

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