Our sisters in Avondale, Pennsylvania (Archdiocese of Philadelphia) have been serving the Hispanic community alongside Msgr. Frank Depman for twenty years.  What began as a grassroots outreach initiated by Msgr. Depman and the IHM Sisters in the early 1990’s, the “Mision Santa Maria” grew to include not only Mass in Spanish in local parishes but also catechesis and pastoral work for the whole family.  Thanks to years of effort and a local benefactor, Rocco Abessino, the mission is now a full parish: the Church of St. Rocco (ENG / SPN).

Blessed Paul VI Award for Excellence in Catechesis

On January 17, 2016, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia bestowed the Blessed Paul VI Award, its highest award for catechesis, on Msgr. Frank Depman and the pioneer IHM Sisters as well as our sisters who have served the work in Avondale.

The award ceremony was held at the Cathedral and began with a short video outlining the history of the work before proceeding to the award and remarks from Msgr. Frank.

Congratulations to all who have collaborated on this remarkable apostolate over the years!


The Visit of Gianna Emanuela Molla, Daughter of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

On February 5, the community at St Rocco’s was blessed to receive for a second time the visit of Gianna Emanuela Molla, the youngest child of St Gianna.  As a friend of Rocco Abessino, benefactor of St Rocco’s, Gianna Emanuela first visited the parish site when it was still under construction in 2011.  At that time the design for the large altarpiece already included a panel dedicated to St Gianna.


For her visit this month, Gianna Emanuela Molla was able to see the panel of her canonized mother in its place within the completed church.


This remarkable visit was a great occasion for the whole community at St. Rocco’s, especially for Rocco Abessino, Msgr. Frank and the sisters.

She made time in the afternoon to visit with the St Maria Goretti group for middle school and high school girls.  They have been learning about the life of St Gianna especially this year since she was chosen as the patroness for this academic year following the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September.

Later on that day, Gianna Emanuela joined the St Rocco community for evening mass.  She told one of the sisters what a delight it was to see so many children at mass!


Following the Mass, Gianna Emanuela Molla gave a presentation about her mother and the mission of the family.  M. Mary Mother of Faith provided translation from Italian into Spanish for the large crowd that gathered to hear her (standing room only!).


As a patroness of the parish, St Gianna Beretta Molla has been an example and intercessor for many women of the parish who have suffered infertility, dangerous pregnancies, or resisted the pressure to abort their children for reasons of “necessity.”  Many little girls in the parish have been named Gianna!  After the talk, families crowed around to greet and thank this daughter of a saint.


The sisters, Msgr. Frank and the whole parish community is extremely grateful to Gianna Emanuela for the visit and join their prayers with her work on the new project of building a pilgrimage site at the Molla spousal home in Ponte Nuovo of Magenta, Italy (“St Gianna Restoration Fund”).

May there be many saints and holy mothers through the example and intercession of St Gianna Beretta Molla!