Father Carlos Martins of the Companions of the Cross travels with the saints. This week, Father Martins will bring 150 relics of saints, including St. Maria Goretti, St. Therese of Lisieux (the "Little Flower"), St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Faustina Kowalska to two parishes in the Diocese of Oakland.
The evenings will begin with talks at 7 p.m. in the church. Father Martins will tell the stories of the relics.
Father Martins' talk will give context to the relics, said Father Joy Kumarthusseril, pastor of St. Philip Neri Parish. The talk, he said, "gives meaning to why that piece of cloth is important."
He has had relics in churches in which he served in Europe, but this is the first time relics are being brought to St. Philip Neri during his tenure.
It's a tradition in the church, he said, to offer people a chance to view relics. "It helps people to feel that these saints are people who lived."
Seeing the saints as real people who did great things can be inspirational.
"I think, often times, we spiritualize everything and we forget God's sanctification applies to us when we live in our own bodies," said Father Jeffrey Keyes, CPPS, pastor of St. Edward Church.
Viewing the relics reminds us that the saints began as human beings.
"They're just like us," said Father Keyes. "We need to be just like them."
In 2008, Father Keyes placed relics in the altar of St. Edward Church. Relics of seven saints — St. James the Apostle, St. Pius X, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, St. Martin de Porres, St. Maria Goretti, St. Gaspar del Bufalo and St. Maria de Mattias — were sealed in the altar.
St. Gaspar is the founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, and St. Maria de Mattias founded the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.
When he was in Rome for St. Maria's canonization in 2003, Father Keyes went to the motherhouse of her congregation, and requested a relic. That relic now resides in the altar of his Newark parish.
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