Skip to comments.Vera M. Calandra, R.I.P. - Foundress of U.S. Shrine to Padre Pio
Posted on 08/28/2004 4:17:33 PM PDT by Viva Christo Rey
Vera M. Calandra, 69; built shrine to Padre Pio and promoted his cause.
Vera M. Calandra, 69, formerly of Norristown, who helped promote the cause for canonization of the Italian Capuchin friar Padre Pio, died Aug. 19 of heart failure at her home in Barto, Berks County.
In 1966, Mrs. Calandra gave birth to her fifth child, daughter Veramarie. The baby had severe urinary tract defects and was operated on several times by Dr. C. Everett Koop at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Koop eventually removed the child's bladder and told her parents that she could not survive.
At the time, Mrs. Calandra and her husband, Harry, were operating a grocery store in an Italian American neighborhood in Norristown. Their eldest daughter, Julia Calandra-Lineberg, said that a customer told her parents about Padre Pio, a Capuchin friar and mystic who showed signs of the stigmata - the wounds Jesus suffered when crucified. Padre Pio was believed to have healing gifts, the customer said.
In 1968 after writing to Padre Pio and being told to bring her child to him soon, although she knew no Italian, Mrs. Calandra went to Padre Pio's monastery in Foggia, Italy, with 2-year-old Veramarie and another daughter, Christina Rocus, who was 5 weeks old at the time. The monk kissed her hand and blessed both her daughters.
Back home, Veramarie's bladder began to grow back. Padre Pio died later that year, and the Calandras opened a shrine in his honor at their home in Norristown. With donations, in 1990 they built a replica of Padre Pio's monastery and a spiritual center in Barto, which became the National Centre for Padre Pio.
For years, Mrs. Calandra lobbied for Padre Pio's canonization and traveled the world to speak to Roman Catholic groups. Veramarie's cure and the later healing of a 9-year-old Italian boy whose family had prayed to Padre Pio were eventually approved as miracles by a committee studying the possibility of his sainthood.
In 1999, Mrs. Calandra gave a scripture reading at the beatification of Padre Pio in Rome. She was too ill with cancer to attend Padre Pio's canonization in Rome June 16, 2002. That day, her family was among the thousands who gathered at the National Centre in Barto at 4 a.m. to watch a live broadcast of the ceremonies on a huge TV screen.
Every year, Calandra-Lineberg said, more than 20,000 people visit the center, which will open a new museum next month. Among the artifacts to be displayed will be the vestment the Pope wore during Padre Pio's beatification ceremony and a canonization certificate the Pope signed.
Mrs. Calandra is also survived by her husband of 50 years; son Michael; daughters Francesca Salkowski and Maria Koltunuk; four brothers; three sisters; and eight grandchildren.
A Funeral Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. today at Most Blessed Sacrament Church, 610 Pine St., Bally, Pa. Burial will be in the church cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the National Centre for Padre Pio, 2213 Old Route 100, Barto, Pa. 19504.
Obituary - Mrs. Vera M. Calandra
Mrs. Vera M. Calandra, founder of the National Centre for Padre Pio, Inc., passed away on August 19th , after a long illness. Born on December 9, 1934, to Michael Angelo and Julia Christina (Pagliaro) Morabito of Norristown, Pa. Vera Calandra was a well-known and indefatigable champion of the virtues of Saint Pio.
Mrs. Calandra founded the National Centre for Padre Pio, Inc. After a fateful trip to Italy in 1968. She had taken her ailing infant daughter to receive the blessing of the Capuchin friar who was known for his charismatic gifts, including the gift of healing. After Mrs. Calandra returned to the United States, doctors acknowledged that her daughter was perfectly healthy. Mrs. Calandra dedicated the rest of her life to Padre Pio.
In 1970, Mrs. Calandra established the Padre Pio Prayer Group of Holy Savior Church, Norristown. The group is still going strong. She also dedicated the first monument to Padre Pio in the United States on the grounds of Holy Savior Church in 1977, and organized the Annual Padre Pio Day of Graces at Our Lady of Czestochowa Shrine in Doylestown, Pa.
In 1990, the Calandra family moved to Barto, in rural Berks County, Pa. With the blessing and support of Bishop Thomas Welsh, D.D.Ret. Bishop of Allentown, Vera Calandra immediately established the Padre Pio Prayer Group that continues to meet each first Saturday of the month at the Padre Pio Spirituality Centre.
Vera Calandra traveled throughout the world and spoke to groups about Padre Pio at over a thousand churches, monasteries, seminaries, convents, colleges, and universities. She enjoyed the help and support of her children and devoted husband, Harry E. Calandra. The couple recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and 36th years of service to Padre Pio in April of 2004.
Vera Calandras efforts on behalf of Padre Pio were first recognized by the Vatican in 1987, when she was presented with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award for her outstanding work for the Church. Mr. and Mrs. Calandra were privileged to meet with His Holiness Pope John Paul II On many occasions. They attended the Holy Fathers private Mass and received his blessing for their efforts in the name of Padre Pio, "for the Church and for the people of God". As His Holiness always encouraged.
On May 2, 1999, Vera was privileged to participate in the Beatification of Padre Pio in Rome, where she was asked to do the First Reading of the Solemn Mass. The Holy Father then presented the National Centre for Padre Pio with a rare gift: his pallium, a special vestment signifying full papal authority, which he wore during the beatification ceremony.
Due to poor health, Vera Calandra was unable to travel to Rome to witness the Canonization of Padre Pio in June of 2002.
Vera Calandra is survived by her husband, Harry E. Calandra and children Michael Angelo Calandra, Barto; Julia Christina, wife of the late John E. Ciccarone, and presently of Stanley L. Lineberg, Jr., Boyer town; Francesca Ann, wife of Stanley B. Salkowski, III, of Boyer town; Maria Regina, wife of John M. Koltonuk, Boyer town; Veramarie, of Barto; Christina Rose, wife of David M. Rocus, Barto; and eight grandchildren. Mrs. Calandra is survived by brothers Michael Morabito, Jr., Joseph Morabito, and Sebastian "Buddy" Morabito, and sisters Splendora Morabito Shaffer, Eleanor Morabito Pishock, and Elizabeth Morabito White. Mrs. Calandra was predeceased by brothers John, Anthony, and Louis Morabito, and sister Marie G. Morabito Kantanick.
A viewing will be held Thursday, August 26th from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Spirituality Centre at the National Centre for Padre Pio, 111 Barto Road, Barto, Pa. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday at 10:30 at Most Blessed Sacrament Church, 610 Pine Street, Bally, Pa. Followed by internment at Most Blessed Sacrament Cemetery. There will be a recitation of the Rosary prior to Mass at 10:00 a.m.
Memorial contributions in the name of Mrs. Calandra may be mailed to the National Centre for Padre Pio to ensure that the good works being done in the name of Saint Pio can continue in perpetuity.
Arrangements are by The Warker-Troutman Funeral Home, 726 High Street, Pottstown, Pa.
Eternal rest give unto her, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace, Amen.
In 1968, shortly before he died, Padre Pio miraculously regnerated the bladder in her two-year old daughter after it had been surgically removed by Dr. C. Everett Koop.
I'm continually hearing about good Catholics in PA! Now I have that shrine on my list of places to go.
That was quite a miracle.