Padre Pio’s Archdiocese gets a new Bishop

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Deacon Chris De Sousa CRS and Brother Sheldon Burke CRS with the then Fr Franco Moscone CRS at the Somascan run parish of St Jerome's in Perth, Western Australia. Photo: Josh Low/Supplied by Deacon Chris De Sousa CRS
Deacon Chris De Sousa CRS and Brother Sheldon Burke CRS with the then Fr Franco Moscone CRS at the Somascan run parish of St Jerome’s in Perth, Western Australia. Photo: Josh Low/Supplied by Deacon Chris De Sousa CRS

Thousands turned out to St Lawrence Cathedral in Alba, Italy, to witness the episcopal ordination of Fr Franco Moscone CRS, former Superior General of the Clerics Regular of Somasca (Somascans), as Archbishop of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo on 12 January.

The Archdiocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo is famous for its shrine to St Padre Pio at Our Lady of Grace Church, which houses the saint’s incorrupt body and attracts an estimated 7 million pilgrims each year.

Celebrated by Monsignor Marco Brunetti of Alba together with Bishop Donato Negro of Otranto and Andrzej Wojciech Suski, Emeritus of Torun (Poland), the ordination was attended by several local bishops, clergy and representatives from the Somascan Order.

In his homily, Monsignor Brunetti recalled that it was at St Lawrence Cathedral that Fr Franco received the gift of baptism, and from the Sacrament began his life of grace, which has led him to “the gift of the fullness of the priesthood”.

“We know what an unexpected surprise for you the call to the episcopate that you have accepted through obedience: soon, during the prostration, the Litany of the Saints will be chanted, among them the invocation to Saint Pio,” said Monsignor Brunetti.

“Providence wanted you to become a bishop in that land of the Gargano, where Padre Pio, 50 years exactly from his return to the Father, still today speaks to the men of the universal call to holiness that he lived in a heroic way.

“Dear Father Franco, I pray to the Lord Jesus that you can be not only a living image of the Good Shepherd, but also a Good Samaritan who bends over the wounds of humanity by pouring oil of the consolation and the wine of hope.”

Pope Francis places a stole on a glass case containing the body of St. Pio in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie at the Shrine of St. Pio of Pietrelcina in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy in March 2018. Photo: CNS photo/courtesy Shrine of St. Pio of Pietrelcin
Pope Francis places a stole on a glass case containing the body of St. Pio in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie at the Shrine of St. Pio of Pietrelcina in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy in March 2018. Photo: CNS photo/courtesy Shrine of St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Addressing the congregation at the end of Mass, Archbishop Franco gave thanks for what he calls his “three origins”.

The first origin encompassed his natural family, church and schooling for which helped him grow as a Christian and gave him his first identity.

The second origin was with his Religious congregation of Somascan Fathers who had accompanied him for 42 years of his life in which he grew as a religious, priest and served as Superior General for 10 years.

The third origin is what began at his episcopal ordination with the Archdiocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, which has given him the warmth of its people and the heart of Padre Pio.

Archbishop Franco has made multiple trips to Australia as part of his Canonical Visits as Superior General to the two Perth parishes entrusted to the Somascans.

A 2014 visit involved his inauguration of Somascan Movement Australia, an Australian Catholic Alliance between Somascan Religious and Somascan Laity, and a 2018 visit was made to receive the Solemn Profession of Brother (now Deacon) Chris De Sousa CRS.