CRANSTON — Compared to contemporaries like St. Faustina and Sister Lúcia of Fátima, the visions of Mother Eugenia Ravasio have attracted a somewhat more limited following. It is quite a devoted one, however, as demonstrated by the recent Mass for God, Father of All Mankind, celebrated at St. Mary’s Church in Cranston on August 7.
“We gather today with the Church throughout the world to celebrate the love of our Father,” said St. Mary’s pastor, Father Michael Sisco, in his greeting to the congregation. “And we pray that this will one day be a celebration in all the Catholic churches in the world, and that the Father will be honored, known, and loved by all men and women.”
Father Sisco was joined by concelebrant Father Angelo N. Carusi, pastor of St. Rocco’s Church in Johnston, as well as representatives from six parishes throughout the diocese. Each parish also brought at least one specially decorated banner with them, which were displayed during the Mass beside a large, Eastern-style icon of God the Father.
This year marked the 17th Mass for God the Father in the Diocese of Providence, though the tradition itself dates back to 1932, with the publication of Mother Eugenia Ravasio’s “The Father Speaks to His Children.”
An Italian nun who eventually became the Mother General of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles, Mother Eugenia left a remarkably varied legacy behind her. Outside of her mystical activity, she is remembered for her care for those afflicted with leprosy, having established over 70 hospitals and leper colonies throughout the world.
Her most enduring legacy, however, is the series of visions she reported receiving from God the Father in the early 1930s — the only private revelations from the First Person of the Trinity to ever receive a bishop’s Imprimatur.
Although Mother Eugenia’s visions have received approval from a Church ordinary, the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith has never issued a judgment on them. Thus, they are private and do not belong to the deposit of the Catholic faith.
The private visions, which do not bear ecclesiastical approbation, have inspired many local Catholics, however, including St. Mary’s parishioner Anna Jones. A regular at the Mass since its inception, Jones served as the organizer for the 2022 celebration, the first to be hosted at her parish.
“I first heard about it because my cousin asked if I’d be willing to help carry a banner and represent St. Mary’s for a special Mass at St. Rocco’s in Johnston,” Jones explained. “It’s such a special experience: obviously it isn’t a Holy Day of Obligation or anything, so everyone that attends is just doing it for the love of God.”
This is precisely what Mother Eugenia had hoped for: although they also include a special Novena and theological reflections on the meaning of divine Fatherhood, the most significant component of her visions concern the institution of a new feast day to honor “the most tender and most lovable of all fathers.”
For many of those in attendance, the Mass also served as an opportunity to honor the woman who brought the devotion to the Diocese of Providence: the late Angie Lanzi, of St. Robert Bellarmine Church in Johnston. This year marked the first time the Mass for God the Father was celebrated without Lanzi, who passed away in February at the age of 101.
“It was Angie’s commitment and dedication that really kept this going for so long,” said Vilma Zanni, from Our Lady of Grace Church (also in Johnston). “She was the one who encouraged me to attend the first Mass almost two decades ago, and now we’re getting ready to host it at Our Lady of Grace next year.”
These sentiments were echoed by St. Rocco’s Deacon Robert P. Troia, who assisted with the August 7 Mass (together with retired Deacon Peter Ceprano of St. Mary’s).
“Angie’s devotion to this Mass was incredible,” Deacon Troia remembered. “She introduced so many of us to Mother Eugenia, and I really could still feel her here with us today. Without her, this celebration never could have grown as large as it has.”
Although her spiritual attachment to God the Father has spread throughout the world, Mother Eugenia’s following remains strongest in her home country of Italy; perhaps unsurprisingly, Cranston and Johnston represent the hotspots for the devotion within the Diocese of Providence.
Over time, however, Mother Eugenia’s message has also spread to parishes in the north and west of the state, including St. Eugene in Chepachet and (most recently) St. Philip in Greenville.
The spirituality of Mother Eugenia is largely founded upon this openness of the Father to his terrestrial children: in what is perhaps the most famous of her visions, she describes how the Father allegedly sat down beside her “taking the attitude of a common person, placing his crown and all his glory at his feet, and taking the globe of the world up to his heart.”
Many who attended the Mass reported a similar sense of personal closeness — not just with their fellow worshippers, but with their Father Himself.
“Several years ago, I had the most incredible experience praying before that icon,” recalled Brother Leo Mary, a Franciscan Tertiary of the Immaculate who is a regular at Mass for the Father of All Mankind.
“I remained after Mass for a bit just to contemplate; it was a cloudy day, and as I prayed, all of a sudden sunlight came pouring through all of the stained glass windows, bathing the icon in gold and really making me lose track of my thoughts just in feeling the love of Our Father.”