The popular mission in Avondale, Pennsylvania began on June 12th and concluded with the closing Mass on Sunday, June 25th. The mission was preached by Fr. Mariano Vicchi, IVE, with the assistance of Fr. Emmanuel Martelli, IVE. By the grace of God, this mission was very fruitful principally because of the numerous sacraments that were administered on Friday, June 23rd, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On this day, more than 80 persons received various sacraments including baptism, Holy Communion, confirmation and Holy Matrimony. Further, the parish of St. Rocco’s was consecrated to the Sacred Heart on this day, and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the following day.
The devotion to the Sacred Heart proved to be an integral part of this mission. About 40 missionaries went to door to door visiting families, offering to enthrone the Sacred Heart in their homes. They were equipped with precious images of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts which they offered freely to those who were moved to received Our Lord and Lady in such a formal way. By the end of the mission, the Sacred Heart had been enthroned in over 200 homes!
One apostolate of special mention was the work done with the men in the mushroom farms. These men spend most of the day in these farms under terrible conditions, waking up very early in the morning and working long hours. For the most part, they live in poor shacks steps away from the mushroom farms, built exclusively for them; as such, often times they spend entire weeks without leaving the complex. Fr. Mariano and Fr. Martelli, with the help of a few seminarians had the grace to visit them, speak to them, and hear a number of confessions. This is certainly one of the greatest fruits of the mission because these men are generally very far from God.
Another apostolate to mention is the work done with the youth and kids. On the Friday of the Sacred Heart, the youth group made a pilgrimage to Philadelphia, walking through the streets of this large city from the Cathedral to the Shrine of St. Rita (a walk which took over two hours!) as they marched holding signs, praying, and singing songs in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The following day, after lunch with the religious, the youth also put together a short play, titled “The Youth and St. Rocco” about a young man who, in prayer, received an apparition of St. Rocco in which the saint, by showing different episodes of his life, explains to the youth how to follow Jesus Christ. Attendance for the kids mission reach 90 kids, varying from the ages of 6-13. Every morning the kids were presented with a particular virtue to practice throughout the day. As in the IVE Directory of Oratory, “We do not only want to form good Christians, but also good citizens.”
A special thanks goes out to Msgr. Frank who received us into his parish, and to the SSVM sisters working under M. Stella Maris, SSVM, who prepared the mission beforehand. Without them, it would not have been a success.