I was sitting in a meeting at my parish, and in the corner of the room sat a life-size statue of Saint Anthony of Padua. Several years ago, the statue was moved up from a basement storage room, and there he now sits, with the baby Jesus in his arms. Our image of St. Anthony is a bit chipped and the paint has faded, but it’s always nice to know that he’s around.
Maybe some of us still remember the little prayer our grandparents and parents used to say whenever something got lost. “St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around. Something is lost and can’t be found.” My mom was always losing her car keys, and my whole family used to have to say this prayer together as we searched. Just as we were about to give up the search, they appeared. Thanks, St. Anthony!
As we celebrate the feast of this beloved saint on June 13, it’s good to remember that St. Anthony is much more than the finder of lost things. He’s also a Doctor of the Church, well-known for his eloquent preaching and deep humility. Upon meeting him, St. Francis recognized his gifts and gave St. Anthony the responsibility of teaching theology to his friars.
As I was daydreaming through my rather long meeting, I thought about St. Anthony’s many talents and how we all have been given multiple gifts to use for God’s greater glory. As formation leaders, we need to work on our own gifts and also build up the gifts of others.
I also thought about all the lost people that we encounter in our ministry and how St. Anthony of Padua, in his day, gently challenged those who had lost their way to find their way back to God. We’re called to do the same.
Is there someone you could reach out to today who might be lost in some way?