Building a Sanctuary of Hope in Honor of Padre Pio
One of the most iconic figures in the history of modern Christianity is Padre Pio de Pietrelcina. Even while he was still living, the devotion shown to him grew to astounding proportions. His figure inspired an extraordinary religious boost that was already high when he was still living but considerably greater after he died in 1968 since he dedicated his existence to prayer, sacrifice, and total dedication to God, the Blessed Mother, the Holy Souls, and other people who needs him.
Building a Sanctuary of Hope in Honor of Padre Pio
Padre Pio’s influence is well-loved worldwide, including in the Philippines. Thousands of delegates and pilgrims across the Visayas pay homage to Saint Padre Pio’s “incorrupt” heart at the IEC Pavilion in Cebu City on October 12, 2018. The visit sparked spiritual renewal and inspired Catholics to draw closer to God. It has also encouraged the Padre Pio Contemplative Community of Cebu, a lay Catholic consecrated group, officially affiliated and member of the International Prayer Group based in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, to finally actualize its ten-year plan of building a sanctuary for the beloved saint in Cebu.
Monsignor Roger Fuentes, who serves as the spiritual director of the community and duly appointed by the Archbishop of Cebu, said that while there already exists a church for Padre Pio in Cebu and a sanctuary in other parts of the Philippines, it will be the first of its kind in Cebu.
Bro. Richard Saing servant group leader of the Padre Pio Contemplative Community of Cebu shared that the community has been in Cebu for more than thirty years but they did not have a permanent place of worship and monthly recollection. On Padre Pio’s birthday last year, the group offered a mass and decided to conceptualize the sanctuary. Out of the various lots offered, the Padre Pio Contemplative Community of Cebu secured a lot in Upper Tanay Road, Pulangbato, Cebu City.
“It was high time to plan – to plan for a bigger space so we can invite people to join us, to join the prayer, and make a place for everyone as a house of prayer. We wish it to be a house of prayer, a symbol of hope, and a lighthouse of faith,” Bro. Richard Saing said.
A month later, the group with its humble and generous members and devotees was able to build a chapel dedicated to Padre Pio in Pulangbato. Brother Richard shared that they continue to pray and plan to have a sanctuary – a pilgrim center not only for Cebu devotees but for the entire country and the world to visit and pay homage, and venerate the first degree Relics of St. Padre Pio de Pietrelcina.
“Archbishop Palma encouraged the community to plan and dream big to cater all devotees and pilgrims. He emphasized very clearly and categorically that in planning for the sanctuary, we need a big area. In other words, he has already envisioned a larger place for the devotion of Padre Pio,” Bro. Richard added.
On September 17, 2022, Cebu’s Archbishop Jose S. Palma presided over the sanctuary’s groundbreaking ceremony alongside the officers and members of the Padre Pio Contemplative Community of Cebu.
Dubbed Santuario di Padre Pio – Cebu, the sanctuary dedicated to St. Pio de Pietrelcina in Pulangbato is designed to accommodate the ever-increasing number of devotees on pilgrimage. It will have a 100-feet-tall image of the miraculous saint which would either be made of cement and steel. Right at the heart of the structure will be the oratory for Padre Pio. Not only will it remind Cebuanos of the visit to the corrupt heart of Padre Pio, but also, of the heart that knows the pain and suffering of the world, a Christ-like heart. The group has tapped the talent of Architect Vic Gulane, architect and sculptor, and Architect Omar Maxwell Espina for the site development.
Apart from a three-story building that will house its chapel, conference rooms, and ceremonial halls, the community also planned to build an open space pilgrim center that can accommodate more than 3,000 devotees, similar to the Basilica del Sto. Niño. In this way the internal space blends with the external one. Retreat houses and a home for first-class relics of father Pio are also part of the sanctuary’s development plan.
The community has organized a dinner for a cause at Marco Polo Cebu, wherein they have received a decent amount of monetary pledges. They also plan to work with more than thirty private companies that are willing to help materialize the project.
Monsignor Fuentes disclosed that they have 1.5 hectares of land for the sanctuary, but they’re still looking into the possibility of expanding area. He also revealed that it would take approximately half a billion for the overall project to complete, but the community is positive and hopeful for their plan to build a sanctuary of prayer, hope, and love for Padre Pio.
Every first Saturday of the month, the Padre Pio contemplative community of Cebu welcomes everyone to reconcile with the Lord. The community holds monthly recollection, and healing masses at the Santuario di Padre Pio – Cebu at Pulangbato, especially during Holy Week. With everyone’s prayers and financial support, the sanctuary is set to be a home of God’s love and mercy.
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For all check donations, please pay to the payee “Saint Padre Pio Home for the Relief of Suffering-Philippines Foundation, Inc.” For online donations, please deposit to China Bank Account No. 137-00-000-5814. All donations shall be for the purposes for the development, construction, and completion of the Sanctuary and the 100 feet Statue of St. Padre Pio at Pulangbato, Cebu City.