Hundreds fill St. Anthony Church for Mass celebrated by Bishop Rozanski

Story and photos by Peggy Weber

SPRINGFIELD – It was standing-room-only at the Springfield diocesan Mass celebrated at St. Anthony Maronite Catholic Church, here, Sept. 8.

Hundreds filled the church at a special Mass celebrated by Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski. He was joined by Bishop Emeritus Timothy A. McDonnell and several diocesan priests and deacons, as well as Father George Zina, pastor of St. Anthony’s, and Conventual Franciscan Fathers Enzo Poiana and Allesandro Ratti from St. Anthony’s Basilica in Padua, Italy.

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Catholic school students express gratitude for relic experience

Story and photos by Peggy Weber

SPRINGFIELD – Hundreds of Catholic school students filled St. Anthony Maronite Catholic Church, here, Sept. 8, to visit the relic of St. Anthony and learn more about the Maronite rite.

Students from St. Michael’s Academy in Springfield, Holyoke Catholic in Chicopee, St.MarySchool in Ware, St. John the Baptist School in Ludlow and all of the students from Cathedral High School attended the morning event.

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Latino celebration brings faithful of many nationalities together

By Rebecca Drake

SPRINGFIELD – Sunday afternoon, Sept. 7, was a time designated as the Latino Heritage Celebration in the presence of the first-class relic

of St. Anthony now on display at St. Anthony Maronite Catholic Church, here.

But the afternoon events, which included a talk on the history of the saint, Mass, adoration, a novena and veneration of the relic, drew both Latino and non-Latino worshipers together for a deeply spiritual and unifying experience.

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Diocese welcomes St. Anthony’s relics

Story and photos by Peggy Weber

SPRINGFIELD – St. Anthony’s first class relics arrived in the Diocese of Springfield today amid prayers, processions and much joy.

Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski welcomed the relic from Padua, Italy to St. Michael’s Cathedral, here. Conventual Franciscan Fathers Enzo Poiana and Allesandro Ratti, who accompanied the relic from Italy, handed the relics to Bishop Rozanski at an 8:30 a.m. ceremony.

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REAL TO REEL – An Explanation of the Maronite Rite

The Catholic Church is composed of twenty-two churches, subdivided into two sections, Western and Eastern. The Western section is made up of one church, the Roman Catholic Church; the Eastern section is made up of twenty-one churches, one of which is the Maronite Catholic Church. The three elements that make the church Catholic are the creed, the seven sacraments and all are united under the Pope. Click here to read more >>

If You Seek Miracles

Bring your prayers to the messenger of hope

It was announced that an important relic of Saint Anthony of Padua will journey to America and visit with the Maronites of Springfield, Massachusetts for 9 consecutive days from September 6th through the 14th of this year, 2014, before returning to its resting place and shrine in Italy.  During these nine days the Maronites of Springfield, who dedicated their church and parish to St. Anthony, will conduct a very special novena in thanksgiving to him for two separate miracles that represent over a hundred years of his patronage and protection.

For in 1907, Msgr. Paul Saab, who had only arrived 2 years earlier from Lebanon to gather all the Maronite families of Western Massachusetts into a parish, suddenly became deathly ill.  If he died, the fledgling Maronite Mission would die with him, and their unique Catholic heritage would be lost.  So the people turned to the Miracle-worker from Padua for help, praying their first Novena to St. Anthony.  By the end of the novena Msgr. Paul had recovered and his nephew, the future Msgr. Michael Saab, arrived from Lebanon to study in the seminary of Montreal securing the future of their parish.  In thanksgiving to St. Anthony the people named their church after him and placed it under his protection.  Fast forward 100 years after the ordination of Fr. Michael, as the sunset on June 1, 2011, a horrendous tornado ripped through Springfield killing a mother sheltering her child in a tub and injuring 300 others.  It leveled the homes south of St. Anthony’s Church and was headed directly for the Parish Hall where parishioners were already gathering for their monthly supper.  At the last moment it veered around the hall mowing down the forest of trees behind, breaking a few windows, but leaving the people inside generally unharmed.

When the present pastor of St. Anthony’s Maronite Church, Fr. George Zina, wanted to hold another Novena to give thanks to the saint for his protection, St. Anthony came to him in a dream and directed him to the Basilica Shrine in Padua.  There it was unexpectedly decided that they bring the holy relics of St. Anthony exclusively to Maronite people for Springfield for the full 9 nine days of the novena.

In response to so great an honor, the parishioners of St. Anthony’s Church would like to share their great blessing by inviting all the Maronites in America, as well as many other Catholic Dioceses, to make their own pilgrimage to the sacred relics of St. Anthony while they are in Springfield, Massachusetts. A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey where the difficulty or inconvenience of traveling to a holy site becomes a prayer and offering for the intercession and protection of heaven.  You may have seen devoted people walking barefoot, or on their knees to a shrine to intensify their prayers.

The Novena of St. Anthony in the presence of his bones will open on Saturday, September 6, 2014, at 11am presided over by Bishop Gregory Mansour of the Eparchy of St. Maron and Bishop Timothy McDonnell of the Diocese of Springfield, and will be followed by a MYO Retreat and Youth Day.  The closing of the Novena will be presided over by retired Bishop Robert Shaheen, whose first solo assignment as a young priest was to St. Anthony’s in Springfield, on Sunday, September 14, 2014.

If you would like to participate in the visit of St. Anthony’s bones, or you would like to organize a pilgrimage for your parish, please contact Fr. George Zina or Maryann at (413) 732-0589.  More information is also available with an extended schedule of events at the website:

Letter from The Diocese of Springfield – Office of The Bishop:

St Anthony Church, Springfield, MA
St Anthony Church, Springfield, MA

Letter from The Diocese of Springfield – Office of The Bishop:

February 24, 2014

Dear Fathers,

I write today with some very exciting news to look forward to later this year. Through the good offices of St. Anthony Maronite Parish, Springfield will have the great privilege of receiving from Italy an important relic of Saint Anthony of Padua from September 6th through September 14th, 2014.

The Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, Italy
The Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, Italy

Through the kindness of Fr. George Zina and our Maronite brothers and sisters, our diocesan community will have the opportunity to participate in this very rare presentation of the relic outside of Italy. This is the only planned presentation in the United States this year.

St. Anthony’s Parish has already begun to organize events for the weeklong visit, including a youth day and special opportunities for all members of our parishes to venerate the relic.

In the coming weeks, with assistance from our diocesan communications ministry, St. Anthony parish will publish a calendar of events and ask local Latin rite parishes to indicate their interest in participation. It will be important to respond as they anticipate visitors from throughout the East coast during this week and space will be limited.

So please mark your calendars and help start spreading the good news of the upcoming local celebration of the relic of St. Anthony of Padua here in our midst. With my prayers and best wishes,

Most Rev. Timothy A. McDonnell

Bishop of Springfield