St. Peregrine Shrine marks five years of hope

Fr. Matt Henry said praying before the St. Peregrine Shrine Oct. 3 called to mind the words of the Michael Poirier song, “Strength for the Journey.” He said time spent in prayer in the chapel dedicated to the patron saint of cancer sufferers has been a source of strength for him. (Joyce Coronel/Catholic Sun)
Fr. Matt Henry said praying before the St. Peregrine Shrine Oct. 3 called to mind the words of the Michael Poirier song, “Strength for the Journey.” He said time spent in prayer in the chapel dedicated to the patron saint of cancer sufferers has been a source of strength for him. (Joyce Coronel/Catholic Sun)

MESA — When a cancer diagnosis is made, most people are stricken by fear.

For the last five years, many have sought consolation and healing at the St. Peregrine Shrine.

Located on the grounds of Christ the King Parish in Mesa, the St. Peregrine Shrine offers perpetual eucharistic adoration, a twice-monthly prayer service and a way for those who are struggling with cancer to receive support.

Bridgette Cosentino, parish manager at Christ the King, said cancer patients and their families fill out cards and ask for prayers. Those requests are then posted on a wall at the shrine for a month.

The cards list the patient’s first name, a little information about their cancer and their petition. Visitors to the shrine can take cards and write a note of support they then place in a drop box. Staff sorts the cards and delivers them to patients.

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Fifth Anniversary Celebration Mass and reception

When: 6:30 p.m., Nov. 14
Where: St. Peregrine Shrine, 1551 E. Dana Ave., Mesa
Info:  (480) 964-1719

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It’s a huge outreach ministry for us,” Cosentino said. “They can receive prayers and hope in a very tangible way.” People from 46 states and 12 foreign countries have requested prayers through the shrine.

Fr. Steve Kunkel, the former pastor of the parish, came up with the unique idea after seeing the way a local gym asked its members to provide words of encouragement to those who were trying to quit smoking. Why not add a spiritual twist?

Deacon Tom Bishop, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2003, said the shrine helps cancer sufferers and their families find peace.

“Christ is present in the Eucharist at the shrine and when I walk through the doors, I experience a peace and a joy from being in His presence,” he said. “That gives me strength for the journey.”

Fr. Matt Henry, parochial administrator at Christ the King, said the St. Peregrine Shrine has been a source of strength for him as well. His mother died from cancer at the end of his first month at the parish.

“During that time, I was drawn to pray in the shrine every day,” Fr. Henry said. “It was a simple movement of the Holy Spirit, drawing me there just to sit and be loved by our Lord in the midst of a difficult time.”

Fr. Henry’s father is also a cancer patient and so the St. Peregrine shrine continues to be a way to be strengthened in faith.

“Our only hope is to bring people to Jesus, who is adored in the Eucharist at the shrine,” Fr. Henry said.