A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles
by Justin Calanoso

Archive for October, 2008

Saints and Halloween

Friday, October 31st, 2008

If you’ve ever wondered about the connection, your explanation is here, offered by none other than a leading expert on saints, Father James Martin, SJ. The answer to that question is brief, but Father Martin, in this simple and engaging video, shares plenty more of his expertise on this favorite topic of his.

Phils win! Phils win!

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

To all long-suffering Philadelphia Phillies fans (myself included), congratulations! A great team beat a great team. Cut loose, Philly! You have waited a long, long time for this one.

APTOPIX World Series Rays Phillies Baseball

Talk about faith, family and miracles! This team has it all!

Dr. Kenneth Ciongoli — Sad news

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Those of you familiar with the National Italian American Foundaton (NIAF) certainly know the name Ken Ciongoli. I came to know it directly. He called me at work one afternoon in the summer of 2004. He had read a magazine article I had written about connecting with long-lost Calabrian relatives and the saint we shared in common. He believed the story represented the ideals of NIAF — to promote the talents and true character of Italian-Americans — and wanted to get me involved. Later that year, he arranged for me to speak at the Gay Talese Writers Seminar at St. John’s University in New York. It was a great honor to participate. Mostly, it was great to learn about NIAF and its relentless crusade, embodied by Ken Ciongoli, to overcome the stereotypes and misconceptions too often attached to Italian-Americans.

Thus, I was saddened to learn yesterday that Dr. Ciongoli, who had been battling cancer, died yesterday at his home in Burlington, Vermont.

In commemoration of his life and spirit, NIAF has set up The Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli Colloquium Endowment. For more information, contact Elissa Ruffino, 202/939-3106,

The obituary in his hometown paper in Burlington, Vermont is here.

In defense of Pope Pius XII

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Writing in, columnist Melik Kaylan evaluates the long-held criticism of Pope Pius XII as doing too little to speak out against Nazi atrocities and (as I concluded through my own research) found it lacking. The WWII pope’s journey to canonization continues at the Vatican. Kaylan’s compelling commentary is here.

Excerpt: “In truth, Hitler hated Pius and Pius deplored both National Socialism and Communism, as countless extant documents show. He struggled against both incessantly, but the Soviets outlasted him, and their revenge has endured even in the West, giving rise to a dubious branch of Holocaust studies devoted entirely to blackening Pius’ reputation. It’s worth citing a few incontestable instances of Pius’ interventions on behalf of Jewish lives:

1. The issuing of 1,600 visas per year from 1939 to 1945 for Jews to escape from Europe to the Dominican Republic. 2. Out of some 8,000 Roman Jews, some 7,000 survived by taking refuge in Vatican buildings. 3. In Hungary, the Church gave an estimated 80,000 certificates to Jews showing they were baptized Catholics to exempt them from harm. 4. The church helped countless thousands to escape to Romania; some 360,000 Jews would leave for Israel from Romania up to the year 1965.”

Big screen treatment

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

(Reuters) – A film about a Roman Catholic nun who was declared India’s first woman saint, opens in cinemas in November across India, just weeks after the Pope canonized her in a special ceremony at the Vatican. The story is here.

The message of Padre Gaetano

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Sister Irmalinda belongs to the Sisters of St. Veronica of the Holy Face in Reggio Calabria — the order of nuns founded by Padre Gaetano Catanoso in 1934. We spoke with her at the church of Saint Gaetano in Reggio last March.

October 23, 2005

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

St. Peters

On this day three years ago, Pope Benedict XVI led his first canonizaton ceremony in a jam-packed St. Peter’s Square. Among the first saints to be canonized that day was a humble mission priest from Calabria named Gaetano Catanoso (1879-1963). It was an extraordinary event and an extraordinary experience for all of us, some 60 Catanoso family and friends in the square along wth 100 Italian Catanosos and 100,000 pilgrims frm around the world.

crowd at the vatican

There were five saints canonized that morning during the rich and elaborate ceremony. None from an English speaking country, thus the entire event was conducted in languages we did not understand. But when Benedict turned his attention to Gaetano and described his life’s work, there was one word the pope spoke that we understood clearly — Catanoso, which floated out over the vast crowd like a prayer. Catanoso.

There were, of course, lighter moments during the canonization weekend as well. Like seeing our family name plastered all over gift shops and buses and on the side of tiny cars driven north from Calabria. Me and my brother, Lenny, got a kick out of posing with this oversized poster. For a brief and shining moment in Rome, we felt like celebrities, or special guests at a huge parish party.

October 23, 2005. A day that will live forever in the Catanoso family in Italy and America. Thank you, Gaetano.

To see my canonization video, please click on the Multimedia button and view the video “Making a Saint”

A Catholic shift to Obama?

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. poses that question in this commentary.

Excerpt: “It has become commonplace in American politics: Certain Roman Catholic bishops declare that the faithful should cast their ballots on the basis of a limited number of “nonnegotiable issues,” notably opposition to abortion. Conservative Catholics cheer, more liberal Catholics howl. And that is usually the end of the story.

” Not this year. Catholics, who are quintessential swing voters and gave narrow but crucial support to Presidenti Bush in 2004, are drifting toward Barack Obama. And this time, some church leaders are suggesting that single-issue voting is by no means a Catholic commandment.”

Italians for Obama

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Even if you’re not an Obama/Biden supporter, you should get a kick out of this light-hearted endorsement — straight from the Grand Canal in Venice! As if we needed a reminder, the whole world is watching this election, even Venetian gondoliers.

Blog tour: Happy Catholic

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

My blogging book tour continues today with a guest post at Happy Catholic. Thank you, Julie D., for the invitation. The link is here. Questions are also accumulating, which I will answer before too long.

UPDATE: I’ve offered comments and observations to the questions posted at Happy Catholic.