Saturday, September 25, 2010

Catholic faithful stream to Belle Glade church to view saint's relics; bishop holds Mass

The picture above and the  following comes from the Palm Beach Post:

With drums and guitars and a Caribbean beat, a working-class parish honored a saint who was truly one of their own.

St. Philip Benizi parish was filled Friday night with parishioners who came to witness a rare spectacle, the relics of St. John Bosco, an Italian saint who came from poverty and made it his mission to help the poor and especially the young.

From 5 p.m. onward, a steady stream of people entered the church to see the glass, metal and wood casket of the saint, to lay hands on it and to pray for his help.

Barbara Fox, her husband Don and their two sons drove down from Fort Pierce.

"For 13 years, I have been praying nightly to St. John Bosco to please take care of all the children," said Fox, who had tears in her eyes and a holy card in her hand. "Seeing him is a very big thing for me."

Ray Jaworski of Stuart was wearing his red sweater with a Don Bosco High School Crest. He was snapping photos for his brother John, who went to the same school in Ramsay, N.J., and plans to view the saint's remains at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.

"It's really neat to touch a piece of history," said Jaworski, who credits the influence of the saint in his own long career as a Boy Scout leader.

The parish has a large number of Hispanic and Haitian parishioners, so hymns and readings were in Spanish and Creole as well as English.

Bishop Gerald Barbarito, head of the Palm Beach Diocese, praised St. John Bosco's commitment to the young and the poor.

"If Don Bosco lived today, he would live in a place like Belle Glade," said Barbarito, winning a loud round of applause. "He showed us that love makes the difference. Don Bosco is truly present among us."

Earlier Friday, a truck delivered the 1,800-pound reliquary from St. Petersburg. The saint's remains visited Belle Glade as part of a worldwide tour coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the Salesians, the religious order he founded,.

The case has been touched and wept over and prayed to by thousands of the faithful since it started its trek around the world in 2009. At its last stop in St. Petersburg, an estimated 20,000 viewed it in two days.

"There were people waiting until 4 in the morning," said the Rev. Bruce Craig, a Salesian priest from Tampa, who has accompanied the reliquary on the southern U.S. leg of the tour, from New Orleans to Miami. "It has been incredible how people came out."

He will fly to Washington, D.C., and be replaced by another Salesian priest in the saint's honor guard. Two trucks with two-man crews have driven the reliquary on all its land-based stops. A videographer accompanying the group is documenting the tour.

What the crowds in Belle Glade will see is a life-size fiberglass image of the saint. His serene facial expression is authentic, made from his death mask. He wears ornate priestly vestments embellished in gold and lace. Inside the fiberglass effigy and not visible is a sealed metal box containing bones and tissue from his right arm.

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