Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

US Redemptorists Launch Day of Blessing for Arthritics

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

US Redemptorists Launch Day of Blessing for Arthritics

Article excerpt

Aug. 1 saw the launch of what promises to become an annual event in Redemptorist parishes and retreat centers across the United States: a day of blessing for arthritics.

The event was celebrated for the first time this year. Aug. 1 is the feast day of St. Alphonsus Liguori, the 18th-century Italian founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, known as the Redemptorists.

St. Alphonsus suffered from severe arthritis. He spent the last years of his life bound to a chair or propped up in bed. He died Aug. 1,1787, at the age of 91.

"This is the first blessing of its kind, as far as we know, on a national scale, for people who suffer the chronic and debilitating agonies of arthritis, fibromyalgia and other serious physical conditions," said Fr. Thomas Picton, Redemptorist superior of the Denver province.

According to reports from the parishes and centers in the Denver province, the first event met with overwhelming success. Each saw a sizable increase in attendance at each of its Masses on Aug. 1, said Bruce Crane, the communications director of the Denver province.

This includes Fr. Sam Maranto's parish, St. Gerard Majella in Baton Rouge, La., where Mass attendance more than doubled, from 350 to 370 worshipers for a typical Sunday to about 850 on Aug. 1. People came from throughout the city and other towns, some driving up to an hour to attend the blessing.

People in wheelchairs, canes and walkers lined the center aisle.

"Many of these folks came from some distance and some of them at some pain to receive this blessing. I was personally moved by their own faith that they placed in this event and this blessing," Maranto said.

After Mass, Maranto and Deacon Lamar Partin invited people to come forward. Each was touched with a cross that contained a small relic of St. Alphonsus, a blessing was recited, and each was given a prayer card. …

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