Thursday, October 14, 2010

St Pio Spirituality Centre, Ulu Tiram in Johor (Pt. 3)

26 September 2010: St Pio of Pietrelcina Feast Celebration

Continuing from Part 2 of pilgrimage....

A large crowd of pilgrims and devotees probably totaling between 600-700, from near and far had converged to St Pio's Spirituality Centre, Ulu Tiram in Johor on 26th September, 2010 to join in the celebration of St Pio's Feast Day.

Signage of St Pio Spirituality Centre in Ulu Tiram and grotto of St Pio
Signage of St Pio Spirituality Centre. To the left is St Pio's Grotto

The glorious Sunday morning began with the recitation of the Holy Rosary which was then followed by Litany to St. Pio of Pietrelcina before the commencement of the Eucharistic Mass Celebration at 11am. The main celebrant of the multi-lingual Holy Mass was Fr. Michael Raymond OFM Cap, the Custos of Malaysia-Singapore Custody, and concelebrated with three other Capuchin Friars, namely, Fr. John Anandan, Fr. Michael Teng and Fr. Alexander Ravi. It was held in the grounds of the monastery where several tents were erected to cater for an expectedly large turnout.

Franciscan Capuchin Priests concelebrating the Eucharistic Mass at St Pio Spirituality Centre in Ulu Tiram, Johore
Franciscan Capuchin Priests concelebrating St Pio's Feast Day Mass

The Feast Day theme was 'BEC and Mission'. In his homily, the charismatic and spiritual Fr. Michael Raymond shared briefly on St Pio's spirituality, his humility and great love for God and His people, plus his ardent prayer life which sealed his closeness with God and enabled him to see the face of God!

Statue of St Pio or Padre Pio as better known
Life-size statue of St Pio or Padre Pio as better known

However, in relevance to the feast day's gospel reading (Luke 16:19-31) about the rich man and Lazarus, Fr. Michael focused on the second commandment of Jesus which is, 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' He emphasized on the importance of cultivating good relationship with others, beginning with those living with us, our spouse and family. If we can't love our brothers whom we can see, how can we love God whom we have not seen (1 John 4:19-21). Also, he exhorted us to recognize the Lazaruses and Lepers we've judgmentally placed outside our fences and gates. Unless we invite them into our lives, by discarding the mentality of remaining in our comfort zone, minding our own business, being self-centered, arrogant and ignore the needs of others, we'll never see the face of God. As baptized children of God, we've got to use our God-given gifts and talents to serve and benefit others, in humility and self-sacrifice.

His homily was then shared in Tamil and Bahasa Malaysia by Fr. John, and in Mandarin by Fr. Ravi. Fr. Michael's homily was direct and precise, a wake-up call to all present to be a true follower of the suffering Christ! The statement, 'Indifference is condemned while goodness rewarded' that was printed on the booklet's cover for St Pio's Feast Day Mass was a gentle reminder, befitting the gospel reading of the day!

Mass ended about 1½ hours later with the lovely concluding prayer of St Pio appended below that brought tears to my eyes:
Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.
Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often.
Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life, and without You, I am without fervour.
Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light, and without You, I am in darkness.
Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.
Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You, if not by communion, at least by grace and love.
Stay with me, Jesus, I do not ask for divine consolation, because I do not merit it, but the gift of Your Presence, oh yes, I ask this of You!
Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for, Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.
With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity.
Fr. Michael thanked all present, especially pilgrims from near and far that included 3 busloads from Cheras, Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya that was organized by George Yeow, other groups from Penang, Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Singapore, plus a busload of faithful from the Philippine community. Not discounting the parishioners from Holy Family Church in Ulu Tiram who did much in helping to animate the Feast Day Mass and organize events that included a fellowship lunch after Mass.

Also, there was the exposition of St Pio's relic for all present to have their quiet moments of prayer, offering of intentions and thanksgiving.

Exposition of St Pio's relic

After lunch, I sought out the Chapel of Capuchin Friars as I simply wanted to pray inside. Also, wanted to see how it looks like since George shared earlier on how he had a whiff of the sweet fragrance of roses twice when he walked by the small and cosy Chapel during his first visit there last year. I gather this is what's known as St Pio's celestial perfumes. Read more about his odour of sanctity/holiness here. George experienced that when he was discerning whether to organize a pilgrimage there and that lovely incident subsequently inspired him to do just that. Thanks George, you're a blessing to us all!

Inside view of the Chapel at St Pio Spirituality Centre, Ulu Tiram
Inside view of the Franciscan Capuchins' Chapel at St Pio Spirituality Centre, Ulu Tiram

Filled with sweet blessings from God and our beloved Rev. Fathers, as well as blessings of St Pio in our thankful hearts, we left the monastery around 2 pm, enriched and joyful.

This modern saint must have been amidst us that day and presented our prayer intentions to the Lord. Two pilgrims from SFA Church, Cheras gave testimony during our homeward journey - one experienced a warm sensation before she was 'slained' by the Holy Spirit and felt so peaceful subsequently while the other who was terribly unwell for more than a week recovered after receiving the Holy Communion! Praise and thank The Lord! And thanks to you too, humble and blessed St Pio, beloved of Jesus Christ!

Speaking for my beloved spouse and I, we gained much spiritually from the pilgrimage to Ulu Tiram. How blessed to be able to experience the Capuchin's spirituality and humility at the tranquil and serene hillock where St Pio's Spirituality Centre was situated. A big thank you to the beloved Capuchin Friars for their generous hospitality and all others who have chipped in to make the Feast Day Celebration, an enriching and memorable experience for us all!

St. Pio's Spirituality Centre
253 A, B, C Jalan Kubur
Cina Dalaman
81800 Ulu Tiram,
Johor, Malaysia
Phone: +60 7 8760 078
Guardian: Friar Rawi Alexander, OFM Cap

Biography of St Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)
Feast Day: September 23
Patronage: Civil defence volunteers, stress relief and the January blues.
  • 25 May 1887, he was born as Francesco Forgione in the village of Pietrelcina, Italy
  • 6 January 1903, he became a Capuchin novice and took the name Brother Pio.
  • 1910, he was ordained to the priesthood and became popularly named Padre Pio
  • 4 Sept. 1918, he returned to community life at San Giovanni Rotondo due to ill-health until his death, except for his short-span in military service
  • 20 Sept. 1918, he received the visible stigmata, the wounds of the Crucified Christ, and had it for the next 50 years until his death.
  • He is known to possess the odour of sanctity, the gift of bilocation, ability to read the hearts of penitents and a worker of miracles
  • 23 Sept. 1968, he died at the age of 81 and the stigmata completely disappeared without any scars
  • 16 June 2002, he was canonized as a saint by Pope John Paul II
  • Read more at Wikipedia
Padre Pio Quotes
  • Pray, hope, and don't worry! Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.
  • Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God's heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips but with your heart. In fact, on certain occasions, you should speak to Him only with your heart.
  • Pray is the oxygen of the soul.
  • Keep close to the Catholic Church at all times, for the Church alone can give you true peace, since she alone possesses Jesus, the true Prince of Peace, in the Blessed Sacrament.
  • Every Holy Mass, heard with devotion, produces in our souls marvelous effects, abundant spiritual and material graces which we, ourselves, do not know. It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
  • Do you not see the Madonna always beside the Tabernacle?
  • Prayer opens the heart of God
  • Humility, humility and always humility. Satan fears and trembles before humble souls. The Lord is willing to do great things but on condition that we are truly humble.
  • The proof of love is to suffer for the one you love.
  • Be good Christians, or your journey will serve you no good purpose. Only by good example can you change the world.
  • Bring me my weapon! (the Rosary)
  • You should not be discouraged, because if there is in the soul a continual effort to improve, the Lord will finally reward you by suddenly making all the virtues blossom in you as in a garden full of flowers.
  • I can refuse no one. How could I when the Lord never refuses me a grace.
  • Love is the first ingredient in the relief of suffering.
  • God is not served unless it is according to His will.
  • Try to serve the Lord with all your heart and with all your will. He will always bless you more than you deserve.
  • Pray, pray to the Lord with me, because the whole world needs prayer. And every day, when your heart especially feels the loneliness of life, pray. Pray to the Lord, because even God needs our prayers.
  • The life of a Christian is nothing but a perpetual struggle against self; there is no flowering of the soul to the beauty of its perfection except at the price of pain.
  • A pure soul is synonymous with a heart full of love of God.
  • After my death I will do more. My real mission will begin after my death.

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