– Miguel Augusto (*)
The English-speaking community of the Se Cathedral church was recently invited to form a pastoral group and program. St Padre Pio was chosen to be the patron saint. Father Leonard Dollentas who is in charge for this community and project, talked to O Clarim talk about the intentions of this group.
Father Dollentas explained that this group “is not an independent entity of the Se Cathedral, but an integral part of it and, it was formed to create a welcoming environment for English-speaking groups belonging to different nationalities and cultures who usually attend Masses at 5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday in the Cathedral. While maintaining the church’s liturgical norms, and despite being primarily an English-speaking community mainly composed of Filipinos, Indians, Koreans and other parishioners (various nationalities) who speak English, the faith community occasionally integrates other languages and cultures, to provide a sense of welcome and a climate of respect for the existing multiculturality.”
On the first Sunday of each month, the Sunday Eucharistic celebration at 6:30 PM includes a healing session at the end of the Mass, where the faithful present themselves before the priest who, imposing his hands, prays over them asking for the intercession of St Padre Pio. After the prayer of laying on the hands, the priest ministers the anointing with the oil of the sick, making the sign of the cross on the forehead of the faithful one with this sacramental. That was how it happened last Sunday.
Masses in English at the Se Cathedral during the week are celebrated on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:45 PM, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays priests are available for confession in the following languages: Filipino, English, Spanish and Chinese, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Father Jean Derobert spiritual son of Padre Pio
The late priest Jean Derobert was a spiritual son of St Padre Pio. From his close relationship with the saint he gave several testimonies and published some books. In one of his testimonies, Father Jean Derobert, recalls the afternoon of October 1955 when he was still a seminarian in Rome and when he arrived at San Giovanni Rotondo to meet Padre Pio. After a long journey by train, he was taken by a Capuchin Friar to the Convent, to go meet Padre Pio. As he passed the cell corridor, Derobert said, “I came upon a coughing man who had a cold, … I know this face, I have seen this physiognomy somewhere.” He says that the moment he put his hand over his head, Derobert noticed his gloved hand and exclaimed, “It’s Padre Pio!”
Padre Pio came down the corridor separating the church from the Convent, and there were many people, recalls Jean Derobert “Padre Pio, left surrounded by four Capuchin friars who served as ‘bodyguards’, because people would fall on him.” Derobert tells us that Padre Pio looked at him over the heads, “until the Capuchin friar who had brought me shows me to Padre Pio and said to him: ‘Father, it is a French priest who wanted to come and see you.’ And Padre Pio, without looking at me, said: No, priest no, only a seminarian!’” Jean Derobert felt touched “it was a click for me and I knelt down.” Derobert says that Padre Pio came to him and took his head in his hands, and pressed it against his heart. Derobert says he felt a perfume “I did not know it was his blood. He laid hands on me, and I felt like an electric shock, something fantastic, phenomenal, I had never felt.” He remembered after the words of the Gospel, “Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all” (Luke 6:19).
The next day, at quarter to five in the morning, Jean Derobert went up to the Convent church. He remembered that there were people crowding at the door, reciting the rosary at breakneck speed, “until the sound of a key was heard, the door of the chapel was opened, and those people came in like crazy. Padre Pio then came to celebrate Holy Mass in an extraordinary way.”
The celebration lasted for two hours, Derobert recalls: “he was talking to someone on the altar. I had finally managed to get close, about a meter and a half from where he was, and I saw very well that he was talking to someone – Our Lord who was there. He violently moved away the devil who wanted to keep him from consecrating. With one hand, sometimes with both hands, he pushed it. It was amazing!” Padre Pio, says Derobert, stayed in adoration before his God who had become present in the bread and wine. “And then in the moment of Communion the phenomenon of luminosity. He illuminated everything!”
Derobert said that at his side was an ecclesiastic, a Monsignor who was secretary to the Cardinal of Bologna, with whom he had spoken. “I was moved, and I saw the Monsignor by my side with tears in his eyes.” Jean Derobert says he asked: “Monsignor, what is happening?” Monsignor said with emotion: “look, it is the phenomenon of luminosity that is characteristic of the great mystics, that is, the spirit takes possession of it so of matter that it becomes translucent and brilliant.” And he added: “Remember when Jesus was transfigured on Mount Tabor, that’s exactly what happened!”
After the Eucharistic celebration, Derobert recalls that Padre Pio went down to the confessional. “Then I prepared my confession. He was sitting in a confessional chair and I was kneeling beside his feet, and our heads were very near.” Jean Derobert claims to have spoken of his recent sins, but Padre Pio told him that they were already confessed before and showed him old ones that made Our Lord suffer. Then he said to him, “Our Lord has forgiven you, our Lord has called you!”
During the confession he asked Derobert if he believed in his Guardian Angel, and he said to him: “Father, my Guardian Angel… I never saw him. Then I received the most solemn pair of slaps of my existence.” Derobert continued telling that he pointed his finger over his right shoulder and said, “Your Guardian Angel is here behind you! He is great, he is beautiful!” Derobert with emotion recalls, “I turned around and did not see anything, but when I looked at him again, I was surprised that his whole face was lit by a strange light and in the pupils of his eyes there was the reflection of the Angel. He said to me, ‘When you want to tell me something, send me your Guardian Angel.’”
The next day Jean Derobert recalls that he went to say goodbye to Padre Pio and gave himself over to him. “I knelt down before him, and he put his hands on me vigorously and I felt the electric shock. He embraced me and said to me, ‘Listen, I welcome you as a spiritual son. I promise to watch you always and everywhere. I will never leave you, because you are a son of my heart.’”
Father Jean Derobert says that there are people who ask a lot about the mystical life of Padre Pio – Why so much suffering? How to explain the stigmas? Derobert stated that in order to understand the mystery of Padre Pio, it must be seen that “the whole life of Padre Pio is only a participation, that is, taking his part of the Passion of Christ to help him carry his cross. If this is not understood, Padre Pio is not understood.” And he added “how many times have I seen Padre Pio being crucified during the Mass! I saw with my own eyes, pearls of blood running down his forehead, from the crown of thorns. I saw the blood flowing from the stigmas – I saw something amazing, the thin skin that closed the wound of Padre Pio’s left hand open, and through the hole I saw the flame of a candle. I saw him bleed from his feet, and his socks impregnated with blood, and I felt the perfume coming out of his wounds.”
Derobert tells us that Padre Pio was constantly in prayer; especially prayed the rosary much. “In fact, Padre Pio was a ‘devourer’ of the rosary. He prayed incessantly to the Virgin Mary, added Derobert, recalling that Padre Pio had once said to him: “the rosary is the chain of love that binds your heart to the heart of your Mother! And he repeated many times: love Our Lady, make her been loved very much!”
Jean Derobert, after becoming a priest, heard from Padre Pio what he felt in his heart, to which the Lord called him: “In the center of your life, my son, there must be, as for me, an altar and a confessional.”
(*) with Regina Fidei Association (promoter of devotion to Padre Pio)