It has emerged that an 11 year old Farranfore boy, once dubbed ‘The Miracle Baby’ in medical circles in two Dublin hospitals, was among the attendance at the opening St. Pio / Padre Pio Novena in Castleisland last week.
Jayden Foley weighed in at a mere two-and-a-half pounds when he arrived 14 weeks early in hospital in Tralee just a week before Christmas Day in 2008.
He was immediately sent to Dublin as complications, including the dreaded meningitis, beset him.
Terrible Christmas and Stephen’s Day
“I’ll never forget that week up to Christmas and St. Stephen’s Day was worse,” said Jayden’s mom, Catheriona.
“That day he was really sick and we were told there was little or no hope for him and to make matters worse we were told he had a rare form of meningitis.
“While the medical staff members were updating us on his worsening condition, one of the nurses on duty told us we should ask the nearby Capuchins if they would bring in the glove of Padre Pio.
Flowing Robes and Sandals
“They got in touch and Brother Richard arrived. All I remember are the brown, flowing robes and sandals – and it was a freezing night.
“He blessed Jayden that night and slowly but surely from then on he began to recover and get stronger.
“The medical staff admitted they were baffled at the turnaround and the recovery he made and they told us afterwards that they were fearing the worst in spite of all their best efforts to help him.
A Frightening Emergency
“Years afterwards they still found it hard to believe that Jayden came out of that frightening emergency without a scar or any lingering medical condition – especially after the meningitis – as they expected him to have all kinds of complications after that.
“It was then they labeled him ‘The Miracle Baby’ before we eventually left Dublin.
The Power of Padre Pio
“We’re big believers in the power of Padre Pio and we were delighted to hear that Fr. Brick was bringing the devotions to Castleisland – we wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
“It gave Jayden a chance to meet Br. Bryan Shortall after the novena there on Tuesday night and Br. Bryan rang his colleague Br. Richard and he put Jayden onto him and they had a great chat.
“Brother Richard remembered the night well and he was delighted to hear from Jayden.
When All Hope Was Gone
“We couldn’t forget what he did for us on that night when we thought all hope was gone and we send him a card every Christmas. We called in to meet him in Dublin one day afterwards but he had moved,” said Catheriona.
Jayden is now a sturdy 11 year old and he plays hurling and football for Firies GAA Club and soccer for Ballyhar Dynamos FC.
Dates for Padre Pio Devotions 2020 at Castleisland Parish Church
Meanwhile, Castleisland Parish Office has issued a time-table for the benefit of devotees of St. Pio for the coming season of novenas which got under way on Tuesday night at the Church of Saints Stephen and John.
The next novena will be held on Tuesday, February 4th. at 7:30pm.
After its spectacular opening night, the novena will continue on the first Tuesday of every month and will finish on Tuesday. June 2nd. The season will then break until mid autumn and will resume on the first Tuesday, September 1st.
Devotions commence at 7.30pm sharp with rosary followed by mass and personal witness.
Standing Room Only
On Tuesday night it was standing room only and even that was at a premium as people from all over the county and beyond converged on the church for the 7:30pm start.
And yes there were people on crutches and walking aids of all sorts ambling their way down Church Street or up from Garvey’s SuperValu and all with Padre Pio and his glove uppermost on their minds.
Fr. Mossie Brick opened the petitions box and asked his vast audience for prayers and good thoughts for a woman going to Cork for tests next week and for people with various illnesses whose personal circumstances found their way into the box.
There was a rosary which featured people from all wings of the parish.
Francesco Forgione to Padre Pio to St. Pio
Guest of honour on the night was Br. Bryan Shortall who gave a comprehensive run down on the life and times of Francesco Forgione to Padre Pio to St. Pio.
Speaking to RTÉ Southern Editor, Paschal Sheehy, Br. Shortall, from the Capuchin Friary in Dublin, compared the crowd’s desire to see and be blessed by the saint’s glove as the religious equivalent to wanting the jerseys of the likes of Roy Keane, Christy Ring or Cristiano Ronaldo or Larry Mullen’s drumsticks.
People Connecting to Christ
“In a religious sense, the Padre Pio mitten is one such way of people connecting to Christ, primarily through the intercession of a saint,” he said.
The parish choir graced the event with its delightful aural gift and local, yellow vested volunteers marshaled the crowds with safety as their guidelines.
A chorus of coughing provided a backdrop to the entire evening and this prompted Fr. Brick to advise his congregation to forego the traditional ‘peace be with you’ handshake for a thumbs up in the direction of your fellow, temporary pew or isle occupiers.
With Infinite Patience
Then, with infinite patience, Fr. Brick stood at the top of the church and greeted and blessed wave after wave of devotees with the glove once worn by the saint up to the time of his death on September 23rd 1968.
If the ceremony started promptly at 7:30pm it continued until the last person was blessed and that took until midnight – such was the enthusiasm of the flock for the initiative of its relatively recently arrived shepherd, Fr. Brick.
Meanwhile, the new shrine to St. Pio in the Church of Saints Stephen and John is open to the public every day. It includes a relic and petitions box.