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This 35th Rosary Crusade, held Sunday, October 1, was an event to behold as this year’s Crusade also coincided with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the famous miracle of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal in 1917. In addition to this remembrance was the addition of a healing service including the presence and use of the shawl of the beloved St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, Italy.

Longtime Utican, Anna Marie Piacentino founded the Rosary Crusade 35 years ago. It is an annual call to prayer for families. Her son David has joined her over the years in the preparation of this now well-established tradition on the first Sunday, October.

About the Rosary

Catholics say prayers; ancient prayers that have been recited for centuries. Among them, the Hail Mary, the Our Father and the Glory Be. Catholics pray the Rosary, beginning with the Apostles Creed upon the crucifix.  The Rosary is a combination of all of the above prayers in succession, in ordered themes according to the mysteries of the life of Christ. The Rosary is a series of decades of beads to keep count of the prayers said. It is a meditation.

The emphasis of the Rosary is the appeal to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Mary represents the divine feminine and is an intercessor on behalf of believers. Christ performed his first miracle, changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana, at the request of the Blessed Mother Mary.

About Saints

Catholics also believe in Saints; mostly clergy, who have gone before them and are worthy to be remembered. In that remembrance comes the ability of an appeal to that individual, now in spirit, to perform a miracle. It is a condition of Sainthood to have at least two miracles attributed to said person prayed to by a direct appeal.

St. Padre Pio is very popular locally. There are several Padre Pio prayer groups which meet regularly. One at St. Joe’s St. Pat’s and one at St. Paul’s in Whitesboro.

St. Pio is known especially because he is a modern day saint. There are thousands of people worldwide who remember being in his presence and were blessed by his intervention on their behalf.

One such person is Rocky Falatico, Jr. who attended the Rosary Crusade prayer service and shared his story. In 1964 Utica native Rocco Falatico, Sr. found that his two-year-old son, Rocky, had been diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor. The father brought his 2-year-old baby boy to Italy to be prayed over by Padre Pio. Padre Pio is said to have offered his life in exchange for the little boy’s good health.

Rocky Falatico holds a photograph in his hand of St. Padre Pio blessing him as a child. Falatico was healed of an inoperable brain tumor by the intervention of St. Pio in 1964

Rocky was healed by the intervention of the beloved Padre Pio. By the time the family returned home doctors could no longer find any evidence of disease. Many miracles have been attributed to the intercession of St. Pio.

Padre Pio is known for bearing the stigmata, painful wounds corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ. St. Pio wore small cotton knitted fingerless gloves to prevent his blood from dripping throughout the friary. His feet also bled as did the wound in his side. Pio’s fellow brothers would complain of the blood spots on the floor.

Seeking the Miracle

Catholics also believe in miracles and hundreds made their way to the altar rail on humble knee seeking mercy. Seeking a miracle. They came in wheelchairs. They came with cancers. They came under assistance with loved ones helping them to the Communion rail of the church.

The brown knit shawl once worn by St.Pio for warmth is now a relic in the possession of the Falatico family. Fr. Ken Geraci of the Divine Mercy Fathers led the ceremony and wore the Saint’s shawl over his shoulders as he blessed those who came forward for healing prayers.

Fr. Anthony LaFache and Fr. Arthur Krawczenko also blessed believers at the altar rail with relics of St. Pio. Relics of St. Jacinta Marto and St. Francisco Marto from Fatima were also on hand.

One would wonder how many of those blessed received a miracle. This writer can proclaim relief from several complaints after having been blessed and stroked by the shawl of my beloved Padre Pio.

Over eight hundred people packed the largest and arguably the most beautiful Catholic church in the area, St. Joseph St. Patrick’s parish on Varick Street for this special occasion. The music was resplendent with brass fanfares, organ, flute and full choral voice.

The church event was followed by a dinner and dancing at The Stanley Theater and featured music by Classified and Mark Bolos. Food was provided by Stonebridge Country Club.

The tradition will continue in 2018 with the 36th Rosary Crusade on the first Sunday of October at St. Joseph St. Patrick Church in Columbia, the childhood home parish of Utica’s St. Marianne Cope.

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