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Peacemaker The National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia

Fall 2019

“My burden is light”

Augustinian since 1907


Peacemaker Fall 2019

Publication of the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia


Feast Day

2019 Solemn Novena and Feast Day celebration


Shrine Director & Editor Chesley Turner

Associate Editor Yuliana Saputro

Photography Director Fr. Dan McLaughlin, O.S.A.

Design accent communications, inc.

Printer Gerald O’Neill

Shrine Board Members

Chesley Turner Shrine Director Fr. Michael Di Gregorio, O.S.A. Provincial

Jay Agnes

Dina DellaDucata

Ron Donatucci

Dominic Liberi

Angela Palmieri

Justin Serianni

Lisa Sweeney

Contact us: National Shrine of Saint Rita 1166 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19146 215.546.8333 © 2019 The National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia

Make Peace. Find Peace.


Blessed Maria Fasce

She found her mission in the path of Saint Rita

Inside 2 3 4 5 8 14 15 16 18 20 21

Letter from the Director & Editorial Team Our Future is Bright from Fr. Michael The Augustinians at Saint Rita Shrine Cascia Center and Saint Rita Place Peacemaker Art and Essay Contest Testimonial Seeds of Light In the Footsteps of Saint Rita Our Hope is in the Lord Spiritual Enrollments and Gift Shop Augustinian Vocations - Men of Heart

On the Cover

Peacemaker Art and Essay contestant Catherine (14-year-old), St. Bernadette of Lourdes School, Drexel Hill, PA


from the Editorial Team

“My burden is light”

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.

–Matthew 11:29

This bible passage from Matthew is known as The Gentle Mastery of Christ. The Good Shepherd, the Savior of the world, the Son of God invites us to learn from Him, to emulate Him. This isn’t easy. You are reading these words and thinking about all the burdens you must carry. You wake every day, sometimes to joy, but sometimes to pain, hardship and suffering. You bear that load. In Matthew’s Gospel, Christ offers a difficult idea: take on His yoke, live life as He did, and – even though it doesn’t make logical sense – you’ll find your burdens will be eased. Your life will improve. You will find rest. How is this? Well, the Gentle Mastery of Christ is certainly a mystery to us, even though we experience it every time we surrender ourselves to God’s will and trust in His love. By promising to be like Christ, to be Christ for one another, our personal hardships are transformed. They don’t often disappear entirely, but by investing in a relationship with Christ Jesus, we find purpose and meaning. We share ourselves with the faith family, with God the Creator, His Son the Redeemer, and the life-giving Spirit. We find a way forward, and realize it is His way. It is our sincere hope that the lessons in these pages will help you respond willingly to Jesus’s invitation: “Come to me…for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 2

Farewell from the Former Director


the time this publication reaches your doorstep, I will have moved to a new position as Director of the Center for Church Management at Villanova University. And though it is bittersweet to leave the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia, the assurance of good things done for the sake of a loving God prevails. Saint Rita has changed my life, just as she has each of yours. This powerful patroness, her peers in the Communion of Saints, and the remarkable people who love her will stay with me always.

To say goodbye to good things is always difficult, but I will be sure to share what I have learned and what I have loved with whomever I meet in my new role, as I continue to support Holy Mother Church, her good works, and her good people. One magnificent thing I have learned during my tenure here? When I need something for myself, I turn first to give it to others. And so, my friends, please know that I will be praying for all of you with fervent faith, both when I am joyous and when I feel afraid. May God continue to bedeck your life with beauty that turns your eyes to Him. And may Saint Rita protect you with her patronage and inspire you with her example, that you may be to one another the shining peacemaker, healer, forgiver and faithful friend. With gratitude and hope in Grace, Chesley Turner Shrine Director June 2017 - August 2019

Our Future is Bright Dear Friends of Saint Rita,


is not rare today to hear people of faith translate the notion of coincidences as God-incidences. It’s a way of peering into the spiritual meaning beneath common events that suggest surprising connections. Recently, Saint Rita Shrine has experienced two significant transitions for which deeper connections have yet to be discovered.

In July, we received the long-hoped-for news that the proposal to construct Saint Rita Place and the Cascia Center was secure, thanks to funding that became available for this project. This step forward provides the Shrine with the opportunity to offer a spacious venue for ministry and hospitality, as well as affordable housing for seniors on Saint Rita’s campus. Coming at the very same time was the much less joyful announcement that the Shrine’s Director would be leaving Saint Rita to assume a different role in another of the Province’s ministries. Chesley Turner had been a pioneer as the first lay director of the Shrine. She paved the way in demonstrating how Saint Rita’s ministries can continue to offer a diversity of initiatives that flow from and complement the sacramental services of the Shrine offered by a core of friars. The Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova will continue to build upon the initiatives and progress of these past two years, expanding its reach outward to the neighborhood and far beyond, continuing to bring the message of hope and peace that Saint Rita proclaims wherever needed. Please pray with us and walk with us as we continue to uncover the significance of the connections before us. Fr. Michael F. Di Gregorio, O.S.A. Prior Provincial & former Shrine Director


St. Mary's Catholic Church, Waterford, NY


Augustinians The

at the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia

Meet our Shrine Friars who administer sacramental ministry to the Shrine community and visitors: Fr. William Recchuti, O.S.A.

Fr. Recchuti has been at the shrine since 2006. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he was ordained at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in 1961. Fr. Bill taught for 26 years at Monsignor Bonner High School outside Philadelphia, and then served for 16 years in parish ministry in Flourtown, PA and Upstate New York. He admires Saint Rita's “humility of adaptability.” St. Rita, in her humility, adapted herself to serve God in all the circumstances of the lay state and in the religious state.

Fr. Daniel McLaughlin, O.S.A.

In addition to being our photographer for the Peacemaker Magazine, Fr. Dan celebrates Mass, hears confessions, gives guided tours, and ministers to the sick. A Philadelphia native, Fr. Dan attended Monsignor Bonner High School and the College of Steubenville. Ordained in 1983, Fr. Dan has served in the Bronx, as a teacher at Monsignor Bonner, and at Saint Rita’s. Father Dan can be viewed at: “I admire the virtue of St. Rita's perseverance in prayer. Rita showed patience when she did not understand His will.”

Fr. James Spenard, O.S.A.

Fr. Jim schedules all the Shrine adoration hours, and he works closely with every couple who prepares to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage here. Born and raised in Waterford, NY, he was ordained in 1972. Fr. Jim has served in pastoral ministry all over, particularly in upstate New York, for which he has a great fondness. “In every vocation in which she found herself – and even in suffering – Rita gave it her best shot in the hopes of being a force for good ... of being a blessing to someone.”

Fr. Robert Guessetto, O.S.A.

The newest member of the Shrine Augustinian Community, Fr. Bob is from Lawrence, MA. Ordained in 1979, he has served in parish ministry and in formation ministry. He lived in Rome for 13 years as Director of Formation for the order. Fr. Bob is fluent in Spanish and Italian, and began his ministry at the Shrine in 2017. Read more on Fr. Bob’s reflections on Saint Rita’s Life on page 16.

Br. Robert Thornton, O.S.A.

Br. Bob is a clinical psychologist who works at the Shrine providing counseling and therapy to clients who seek healing and self-understanding. Br. Bob received his masters degree in social work and his doctoral degree in psychology, and has experience working with individuals, families, and groups. Br. Bob also works at St. Augustine Prep in Richland, NJ, as a member of the counseling staff.

Fr. James Paradis, O.S.A., D.Min.


Fr. Jim works at the Shrine in the areas of pastoral counseling, spiritual direction, and outreach for healing in the church. He recently completed five years in formation work as the Director of Novices for the North American Federation of Augustinians, and has been a friar for over 30 years. Fr. Jim holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in Clinical Pastoral Psychology, and works with individuals, couples, clergy, and religious, drawing on the resources of psychology and spirituality to help people find wholeness and new life.

Cascia Center

Saint Rita Place


long-awaited plan to construct the National Shrine of Saint Rita’s Cascia Center is closer to fruition with a new tax credit allocation of approximately $12 million for the development of Saint Rita Place. The Shrine, in partnership with Catholic Housing and Community Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is building a five-story, mixed-use space with 46 one-bedroom apartments for income-eligible seniors, 62 and older, on the property adjacent to the church on South Broad and Ellsworth Streets.

The award of the tax credit allotment by the State of Pennsylvania will enable the Shrine to provide expanded services to the local community, devotees and pilgrims from near and far. The ground floor of Saint Rita Place will be home to the new Cascia Center, a 7,500-square-foot space equipped with offices, conference rooms, and facilities to serve the needs of individuals, small groups and pilgrim visitors. The Augustinian Friars, who have ministered at Saint Rita’s since 1907, will provide on-site counseling, and social and spiritual programs, in addition to the sacramental ministry already available at the Shrine. Father Michael Di Gregorio O.S.A., Prior Provincial of the Augustinian Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova, which administers the Shrine, said, “This is most welcome news. We continue to plan for new and appropriate ways to serve the community of South Philadelphia and all those who come to the Shrine in search of sacraments, prayer, and peace. The Cascia Center and Saint Rita Place will be instrumental in these ministries.” The newly allocated funds were awarded by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA). Construction of the $16.9 million project is anticipated to begin in Spring 2020.


Feast Day 2019 Let the Saint of the Impossible Show You the Possibilities May 22 is the Feast Day of Saint Rita of Cascia. Although the Shrine is open every single day of the year, May 22 is always our brightest day, when the church is filled to bursting with the faithful. Many people from all walks of life come to show their love for Saint Rita of Cascia, and to join in devotion to her. We turn to Saint Rita as a guide for how to live our lives. She so beautifully exemplified how to take up Jesus’s yoke and walk His path. We all know the great solace and peace she found in this mission, and the peace she was able to share with those around her because of her dedication to the way of Christ Jesus. We promise, if our favors are granted, to make known your favor … Many come to the Shrine on Saint Rita’s Feast Day to say thank you to Saint Rita. Her intercession is most powerful and the miracles and testimonies we hear are true. Her friendship and example are equally impactful, and many come to show gratitude that she never abandoned them, and helped them keep faith through the hard times, the trials, and the burdens of life. Pray for us, Saint Rita, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ, and that we may follow His command to take up His yoke and learn from Him.


Save the Date


Wednesday, May 13 through Friday, May 15

Masses: 8 am, 12 noon & 5:30 pm Confessions: 11 am – 12 noon & 4 pm – 5 pm

Saturday, May 16

Masses: 8 am, 12 noon & 5 pm Confessions: 11 am – 12 noon & 4 pm – 5 pm

Sunday, May 17

Masses: 10 am & 12 noon (Healing Mass) Confession: 11:30 am – 12 noon

Monday, May 18 through Thursday, May 21

Masses: 8 am, 12 noon & 5:30 pm Confessions: 11 am – 12 noon & 4 pm – 5 pm


Masses: 8 am, 10 am, 12 noon, 3 pm, 5 pm & 7:30 pm Confessions: 9 am, 11 am, 2 pm, 4 pm & 7 pm Concert: 6:45 pm • Upper Shrine

Join Us!

Blessing of roses and veneration of Saint Rita’s relics at all Masses. Roses will be available for purchase before each Mass in front of the Shrine building.



Art & Essay Contest




Contest Winners

Each year, we open our Peacemaker Art & Essay Contest to schools across the nation! Teachers tell the story of Saint Rita’s life and invite students to think about what it means to be a Peacemaker. Students can submit captioned illustrations or essays to exhibit their critical thinking.

Contest categories: PreK to 1st Grade: Draw a picture of somebody being kind. What are they saying? 2nd Grade to 5th Grade: What makes someone a Peacemaker? 6th Grade to 8th Grade: What does it mean to be a modern-day Peacemaker?

Contest rules and guidelines:

Congratulations to this year’s winners!


Pre-K to 1st Grade

Kason (Kindergarten) All Saints’ Catholic School Alpena, MI


2nd to 5th Grade

Ruby (2nd Grade) Saint Monica School Philadelphia, PA

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GRAND PRIZE Rita-Marie (3rd Grade) All Saints Catholic School Alpena, MI

A peacemaker is someone who works for peace. They practice the Fruits and Virtues of the Holy Spirit. They are devoted to helping their community and Parish by doing works of charity and mercy. They help in many places. They teach their way of peace wherever they go. They want to make the world a better place, bit by bit, kind act by kind act, so the world will become loving. They give us an example of Christ. –Rita-Marie

Modern-Day Peacemaker Essay The dictionary defines a peacemaker as, “One who brings about peace, especially by reconciling adversities.” To me, this definition perfectly describes how Saint Rita acted when faced difficulty. To become a peacemaker is extremely hard, but if we follow Saint Rita’s example then it might become a little bit easier. In Saint Rita’s life, she was obedient, forgiving, and of course a peacemaker. She forgave the family of the people that killed her husband. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could show that type of courage in my lifetime. I aspire to be like Saint Rita in all aspects of my life. To be a peacemaker, you must have a strong bond with Jesus, and you can’t be afraid to do the right thing. Now the 21st century is very different than the 14th century. In the 21st century, we have one major thing that Saint Rita didn’t have in her day, which is technology. Due to all of the technology, many people are bullied online. This means that you would have to try and stop any fights or bullying online and in person. We must also not fall into peer-pressure, and try to do the right thing. To be a peacemaker, you must not start any fights yourself. You would have to be responsible and surround yourself with people who do the right thing. This will eliminate any reason to do something bad. Also, a key part of being a modern day peacemaker is that you can not care about what people think of you. Being a modern day peacemaker may be extremely hard, but it will overall make everyone, including yourself, happier!


6th to 8th Grade

Lizzy (13-year-old) Saint Bernadette of Lourdes School Drexel Hill, PA



Maria Fasce

I love Him even if it costs much, I love Him because it is worth much, I love Him at all cost. –Blessed Maria Teresa Fasce

She found her mission in The

year was 1900, and the canonization of Saint Rita of Cascia had spread joy across the world. She was the first woman to be canonized in 19 years, when Pope Leo XIII had raised Clare of Montefalco, another Augustinian nun, to the honor of the altars. For Maria Giovanna Fasce, a young woman of 19 living in Genoa, that was a lifetime ago. Saint Rita of Cascia, peacemaker and healer, gracious recipient of stigmata and intercessor for impossible cases, was now sainted. The world celebrated.


Inspired by Saint Rita’s devotion to God, Maria felt a calling to follow in her footsteps. She decided enter the novitiate at Cascia. Her family disagreed. They were well-off, and Maria had the benefit of a good education. They would rather have had her enter the convent in Genoa, not in an impoverished village hundreds of miles away! But Maria felt a conviction, not unlike Saint Rita’s own story. She insisted on going to Cascia. The nuns in Cascia, however, weren’t so sure she’d be a good fit. They denied her entrance until one of the friars from Our Mother of Consolation Church in Genoa, Fr. Mariano Ferriello, petitioned them on her behalf. Maria Fasce had a good heart and was ready for humble service. She was inspired by God – why deny her this calling? Finally granted admittance, Maria began her life as a novice in 1906. A year and a half later, she professed vows and took the name Sister Maria Teresa Eletta. Perhaps she found that things weren’t as easy as she had imagined, and perhaps she missed her family, but after three years in the convent, she sought a leave of absence. She returned to Genoa for eleven months, during which time her faith and conviction were renewed. She was needed in Cascia. After returning to the very place where Saint Rita had lived so much of her life, Maria dedicated her entire

the path of Saint Rita being to the service of God through the renewal of the convent. She made her solemn profession of vows in March 1912. Soon after, she was appointed Mistress of Novices to shepherd young girls and women through discernment and formation. No doubt, she was an understanding Mistress, having lived through secondguesses of her own. In 1920, due to her humble dedication, gentleness, and understanding, she was elected Abbess of the community by unanimous vote. Over the next 27 years, she was re-elected unanimously nine times. There is a story that Maria was praying one day on the same hillside where Saint Rita often prayed, 600 years before her. She had a vision of Saint Rita in front of a beautiful basilica church. Saint Rita asked Maria to rebuild the church at Cascia, which had fallen into disrepair and had been damaged by several earthquakes over the years. Energized and excited by this mission, Maria began work. To raise funds, she promoted the story

of Saint Rita’s life and virtues. She started a publication called Dalle Api Alle Rose or “From the Bees to the Roses,” named in honor of the first and last miracles of Saint Rita’s lifetime on earth. This publication is still produced by the nuns in Cascia today. Maria expanded the reach of Cascia, and in return, Cascia received enough funds to restore the church and build a seminary for the training of Augustinian Friars, a hospital for the town, and an orphanage for young girls, whom she called her “little bees.” Despite the onset of hard economic times in the 30s and World War II – this stalwart nun held fast to her mission and succeeded with gusto! Just like Saint Rita, she fulfilled what God asked of her with passion and energy. All through her life, Maria was afflicted with breast cancer, which she bore with humility and grace. She turned to Saint Rita for help to be patient with her body and to endure the pain. By the end of her years, she struggled to walk due to diabetes, and relied on her sisters to help her through each day. Yet again, she lived life much as her patroness did, and met the end of her earthly life in January 1947 with patience and hope. Maria Theresa Fasce bore many burdens, but she saw them as joyful duties. She listened to her heart, trusted in God, and set to the mission He asked of her. With Saint Rita as her friend and guide, she achieved wonderful things! Blessed Maria Teresa Fasce was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 12, 1977. Today, her incorrupt body rests in the lower crypt of the basilica in Cascia.

What Is Your Mission?

Saint Rita of Cascia followed the way of Jesus to grant forgiveness and share peace. She listened to God’s call and dedicated her life to Him. Blessed Maria Teresa Fasce bore her burdens with humility and patience. She fulfilled her calling to share Saint Rita’s story and rejuvenate the community in Cascia, both inside and outside the convent walls. Both women listened to God’s will and responded with enthusiastic and thoughtful obedience. What mission does God call you to? Which saints have led the way for the path you are to follow? How do you listen to Him, and how do you show Him you have heard the message He set in your heart?



We promise, if our petitions are granted, to make known your favor and to glorify God for His gift.

I have had chronic kidney disease for many years. In November of 2017, I was accepted into the Christiana Care Kidney Transplant Program. Our hope was to find a “living” donor that would be willing to be tested to see if that person was a match for me. In the last two years, my blood work showed that things were getting worse. Sometime in September, of this year, I was having trouble walking and my breathing was abnormal. At one point, I actually needed a wheelchair to get around. This was hard to accept from a person who, even at 70 years of age, was still working full-time in a school environment and was also still coaching sports.

After more blood work, my nephrologist called me to tell me that he was very concerned and that I needed to start the process of going on dialysis. My hope of getting a transplant before having to go on dialysis was becoming unrealistic. At the suggestion of my cousin Jeannie Forcina, we have been going to the healing Mass at Saint Rita’s since I was accepted in the kidney transplant program. Even though I live in Delaware, I was born in South Philly and was baptized at Saint Rita’s 70 years ago. We have gone to mass and visited the shrine on many occasions, but we decided to start going to the healing Mass when we realized that I need to pray for a miracle. Then at the October Healing Mass, my cousin said she felt I would be getting a kidney sooner rather than later. On the week that I was getting ready to start dialysis, I received a call from a person I know through athletics that knew of my situation. He told me that a family he knows just lost their 33-year-old daughter. He said she was a Gift of Life donor and that he mentioned to the parents that he knew two people who were on the kidney transplant list. He asked if they were willing to designate the kidneys to these two people (to see if they were a match) rather than just putting them in the general pool. The family said they would be willing to do that. So, on the evening of October 29, 2018, I received a call from the hospital telling me that it looked like the kidney was a match, and that I should pack my bag and come in. My wife, Mena, and I got to Christiana Hospital just after midnight (it was now October 30). At around 10:45 a.m., I was brought to the operating room and the 2-4 hour transplant operation had begun. Although the surgeon said the kidney was functioning perfectly, once they completed the surgery, they found some leakage in my body and actually had to open up the incision and check it out. They found that my renal system was leaking and was failing. The 2-4 hour surgery became an 8 hour surgery. So, the final part of this miracle was that if this transplant didn’t happen when it did, it could have been a sad outcome for me. It’s now almost four months since the October 30 transplant and I’m happy to say that I am doing very well. The doctors have been extremely pleased with how my recovery has gone. All of my blood work and evaluations have been great. I am a blessed man. I don’t use the word miracle often, but I know that my prayers, and my family’s prayers, to Saint Rita were instrumental in having everything that needed to take place, happen….I want to thank Saint Rita for hearing our prayers.

–Bill D’Amato, Wilmington, Delaware

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Have you received a favor from Saint Rita? Share your experience with us in our Peacemaker magazine. Call 215.546.8333 or email to tell us how Saint Rita interceded for you.

Seeds of Light by Yuliana Saputro

The humble Sunflower is weighted with seeds, but she knows they have a purpose.

What burdens weigh you down?

Do they help you relate to others?

Do you continue to look to the Son of God for love, support and nourishment? 15

In the footsteps of Saint Rita: Obedience as the way to discipleship Fr. Bob Guessetto, O.S.A.

In the Book of Wisdom, it is said of the faithful or just person: As gold in the furnace he proved them and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.

Saint Rita

became precious and tested gold when she accepted the path God was asking her to walk, rather than the one she wanted; God’s project rather than her project. When God and His will for us is foremost, it will, at times, require sacrifice. When we accept that sacrifice, our lives become a pleasing offering to God. This was asked of Rita, for the first time, when she was a young woman. Throughout her childhood, her parents gently and consistently taught her the ways of faith and introduced her to the delights of the Spirit. The Church of St. Augustine, across from the town square in Cascia, was a second home to her. Just down the street was another of her heart’s homes, the monastery of St. Mary Magdalene. There she spent cherished hours with the Augustinian nuns, and there was born in her heart the desire to one day give her life to the Lord as a religious. As much as her parents, too, respected and even shared that desire, it would not be satisfied. When Rita voiced it to them, they felt compelled, as much as it pained them, to explain to their daughter that given the hostile climate in their town and their advanced age, it would be best for her to marry. That they would have a say in the choice of a spouse was the custom of the time, and Rita would have understood that. She may have been surprised and disappointed at their counsel that she not enter religious life. Nonetheless, Rita accepted their counsel and obeyed.


Rita is honored and her intercession is sought because we believe that her life and virtues are examples for us to follow. How can we learn from Rita’s obedience?

We began by saying that being a faithful disciple of the Lord is the fruit of love and trust. Rita never doubted her parents’ love for her. She knew that their love embraced everything they did for her and all they taught her. She knew they cared for what was good for her. That conviction led her to wholeheartedly trust them as she did her very Lord. Though she was growing in wisdom, she easily recognized her limitations and understood that they would have a wisdom and experience she did not yet possess. They saw a larger picture than she could yet see. There was something more. Just as Rita could never doubt her parents’ love for her, neither did she doubt their love for, and fidelity to, God and His Son, Jesus. Even in her young heart, she could recognize God’s loving will for her in her parents’ counsel. With all this in her heart, even in her disappointment, Rita was at peace with her parents’ choice. This is what we mean by Rita’s virtue of obedience. We can easily apply Rita’s experience to that of young people today in their relationships with their parents. But it can be wider than that. Obedience for the Christian disciple, as we all are, begins with our response to the Lord’s question, “What are you looking for”? Can we respond in the spirit of the psalmist: “Your face, O Lord, I seek.” (Ps 27:8). What is the Lord asking of us? That answer can come through our quiet prayer, attentive reading of His Word, the Scriptures, or through the people the Lord places in our path to help convey his will for us, as were Rita’s parents for her. Noticing and listening with the heart and with the desire to follow the Lord will guide us to an answer.

Obedience, then, is an attentive listening to what the Lord is asking of me now. It is the response to the call in Deuteronomy, Hear, O Israel. Our listening to the Scriptures, God’s Word, most often guides the path of the Christian disciple: The loving encounter with the Word shows one how to discover the way to life and the way through which God wishes to free His children, nourishes one's spiritual instincts for the things that are pleasing to God, conveys the sense and the taste for his will, and gives peace and joy for staying faithful, making one sensitive and ready for all the expressions of obedience to the Gospel (Rm 10:16; 2 Th 1:8), to the faith (Rm 1:5; 16:26; Acts 6:7), and to the truth (Gal 5:7; 1 Pt 1:22).* Rita had to listen and trust throughout her life. After the death of her husband and children, she felt God’s call again to religious life. This time, it was not her parents, but the sisters themselves who were not able to accede to her desire. Acceptance in obedience was even more difficult this time. Even so, she did accept this without resentment or ill will. Yet, believing God’s call was still in place, she did three things. First, she returned to prayer asking the Lord to let his will be more clearly understood, and she sought in prayer the intercession and guidance of her companion saints — St. Augustine, St. Nicholas of Tolentine and St. John the Baptist. Secondly, she used her time to be busy about the concerns of God. She attended to the needs of the sick and travelers that came through her town. In acts of compassion and generosity, she lived as a faithful disciple of the compassionate Christ. Rita, then, saw a path open before her as fruit of her prayer. To meet the fears of the community sisters that the hostility in the town could disturb the peace of the convent, she did as her parents had done. With care and respect, she employed the art of the peacemaker and

Saint Rita of Cascia by Primo Conti

obtained an agreement between her husband’s family and the family of his attacker, in which they pledged not to pursue vengeance. Thus, the way was opened for her to seek once again life as a religious. She began her life as an Augustinian nun shortly after this. As faithful disciples of the Lord, we are called to an obedience lived in the same spirit as religious men and women profess. Obedience to God is the path of growth and, therefore, of freedom for the person, because this obedience allows for the acceptance of a plan or a will different from one's own that not only does not deaden or lessen human dignity, but is also its basis.* How wonderfully was this evident in St. Rita’s life! *In the Service of Authority and Obedience, CIRLSAL, 2008


Our hope is in the Lord

It is an immeasurable consolation, to know that we can turn to Jesus Christ in our sorrows, trials, and woes. But what does it mean to follow His way? Jesus invites us to journey with Him in living the example of love, compassion, and God-centered truth, by which we build the Kingdom of God here on earth. Accepting that invitation isn’t conventionally easy, but our Redeemer assures us, “My burden is Light.” It’s an interesting play on words. How can a burden be light? And yet, with our eyes set firmly on the Lord, we find that it is. Full commitment to the Way, the Truth, and the Light brings a unique – arguably transcendent – peace, as exemplified in so many of our precious saints’ lives. And what about when our own burdens are heavy? Jesus promises that if we take up His yoke and emulate Him, striving to be meek and humble of heart, we will find rest. Our earthly burdens are as passing as this life. Our hope is in the Lord.


Rembrandt van Rijn was famous for his chiaroscuro, or sharp contrast of shadow and light, to create drama in his images. In this etching of Christ Preaching (La petite Tombe), created in 1652, Jesus Himself is the source of light. He has captivated men, women and children from all walks of life who consider His invitation. Will they follow His way? Will You?


Spiritual Enrollments


The Saint Rita of Cascia Society was founded in 1910 to honor Saint Rita, to make known her life and message, and to unite those devoted to her in spiritual communion. Spiritual benefits include: • Monthly Mass offered at the Shrine for all living and deceased members. • Remembrance in the Novena offered each Wednesday, as well as during each day of the Solemn Novena every May 13-21, and Feast on May 22. • Remembrance in the daily prayers of the Augustinian Friars at the Shrine. Members, in turn, are asked to help spread devotion to Saint Rita through prayer and by sharing the remarkable faith story of her life, and to pray for all the members of the Society. These cards can be used for sacramental celebrations, birthdays, sympathy cards, and more.

1-Year Society Membership $5.00: Greeting-card-sized, featuring the exquisite image of Saint Rita of Cascia contemplating the crucifixion of Our Lord.

5-Year Society Membership $8.00: Greeting-card-sized, featuring Our Mother of Good Counsel, the icon of the Blessed Mother tenderly holding the infant Christ.

Individual Perpetual Society Membership $20: Large folded certificate, featuring a seal of Saint Rita in heaven on the front and displaying Saint Rita in adoration of the crucifix on the inside.

Family Perpetual Society Membership $50: Large folded certificate. The interior features a beautiful scripted rendering of the Prayer to Saint Rita, as well as the image of an angel crowning Saint Rita with a circlet of thorns, as she adores the crucifix.


Our Shrine Gift Shop is open seven days a week, offering devotional items, medals, books, prayer cards, greeting cards, statues, vintage items, and much more. Looking for a gift or a special religious article? We stock items for Saint Rita and other popular saints. CALL 215.546.8335 or visit SaintRitaShrine/gift-shop


Stained Glass Folder $8.00 Made of resin, with each side measuring 5 x 7 inches. One side has the prayer to Saint Rita and the other, her image with the cross. Full size when extended is 10 x 7 inches.

Saint Rita Chaplet $5 A handmade chaplet that comes with Saint Rita centerpiece with rose image on back. Limited quantities available!

Men of Heart



This November, the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova will join together for Vocation Awareness Week from November 10 through November 17. This week includes the Feast of All Saints of the Augustinian Order and the Birthday of Saint Augustine. Together, we will pray about what God wants us to do with the gifts He has given us, recognizing the many vocational calls that answer the question, “What do you want of me, Lord?” To support vocations: In a special way, we invite all our community, near and far, to participate in prayer for Augustinian vocations. Take time to visit your parish church, or favorite place to pray. Take an hour to thank God for the blessing of our Augustinian priests, brothers, and sisters who help, heal, and serve the world. For those discerning a call to be an Augustinian friar: The Augustinians are “Active Contemplatives” and Men of Heart. To learn more about the Augustinian way of life, our friars, and the charism of community, visit or call 610.519.4674 to speak with Fr. Joe Narog, O.S.A., Province Vocation Director. Leader: Let us pray to the Lord of the harvest,

who calls men and women to loving service.

(Pause) All glory and praise are yours.

Vocation Prayer

All: God of truth, light of our hearts for you guide your people in the ways of holiness.

Help those who follow in the footsteps of Augustine to seek you through mutual love and worship

and to be servants of your Church as examples that others may follow. Enlighten men and women

to see the beauty of common life in the spirit of St. Augustine and strengthen them in your

service so that the work you have begun in them may be brought to fulfillment.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.



1166 South Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19146

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2020 Shrine Schedule Christmas Novena Saint Rita Solemn Novena Saint Rita Feast Day Mother’s Day Novena Father’s Day Novena Children’s Novena All Souls’ Novena Healing Mass

December 25, 2019 – January 2, 2020 May 13, 2020 – May 21, 2020 May 22, 2020 May 10, 2020 – May 18, 2020 June 21, 2020 – June 29, 2020 September 8, 2020 – September 16, 2020 November 2, 2020 – November 10, 2020 12 noon (Every 3rd Sunday of the month – September to May)

Christmas E-Candles $25

This Christmas, light a candle and make special intentions for your loved ones during this joyful occasion. The e-candles, available with four optional images, are now available on our website. The candles will remain lit and visible online during the Advent and Christmas Seasons (December 2, 2019 - January 5, 2020). Visit: to purchase.


(L-R) Nativity of Jesus Christ by Edoardo • Mary and Baby Jesus by Elimar Ulrich Bruno Piglhein • Lighted candles • Shrine stained glass Nativity

Profile for Rita Shrine

Fall 2019 Peacemaker  

Fall 2019 Peacemaker