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

Archive for April, 2009

The pope’s visit to L’Aquila

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI was accompanied by more than 400 journalists as he toured the city of L’Aquila and surrounding villages for three hours on Tuesday. Powerful photos, too, at this link.

America magazine podcast

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Last month, while in New York City, I was interviewed for a podcast about my book by Tim Reidy, online editor for America magazine, the fairly liberal Catholic monthly published by the Society of Jesuits. Father James Martin, bestselling author of My Life with the Saints, is a regular contributor to the widely regarded publication. My podcast was posted today and can be heard here.

Back to New York

Friday, April 17th, 2009

This Sunday, I will be traveling back to New York to deliver the Joseph Valletutti Memorial Lecture at the Italian Cultural Center of St. John’s University in Queens. It’s a great honor, and I am really happy to have the opportunity. The event will be held at noon at the Donovan Hall Community Room on campus.

This is my second trip to St. John’s to share the story about the saint and my Italian family in Calabria. In November 2004, I spoke at the Gay Talese Writers Series sponsored by the National Italian American Foundation. That was long before I even knew I would be writing a book.

UPDATE: My talk at St. John’s was a great deal of fun. We had a good turn out, and it is always enjoyable to talk with a roomful of (mostly) Italian Americans, many of whom reveled in telling their own stories after my talk. Meeting members of the Valletutti family, for whom the event was honoring, was also a pleasure. Thanks to Joan D’Angela of St. John’s for the invitation and the hospitality.

A new archbishop in New York

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

From today’s Times: “Archbishop Dolan, a church historian whose studies have focused on the contemporary American Catholic experience, made it clear on Wednesday that he understands he was chosen for his formidable skills at communications and public relations, and that he intends to use them.”

The whole story is here.

Luck or answered prayer?

Monday, April 13th, 2009

A Catholic parish in Vermont proclaims its prayers were answered when brave Captain Richard Phillips was safely retrieved from a dramatic high seas rescue off the coast of Somalia — on Easter Sunday, no less. A doctor in L’Aquilia is left with no other explanation than that God led him to a crumbled building where his 20-year-old son lay injured, but still alive, beneath earthquake rubble. Miracles? Answered prayers? Or it is rather the work of patient, skillful sharpshooters and, in the case in Italy, pure luck? Your faith will determine your answers. Even with a saint in my family, I can’t help but wonder: are prayers really answered so arbitrarily? Was no one praying for the nearly 300 innocent victims who died horrible deaths in last week’s earthquake?

State funeral in Italy

Friday, April 10th, 2009

The Times today: L’AQUILA, Italy — Italy held a state funeral Friday for the victims of the country’s worst earthquake in three decades, as weeping relatives and officials assembled in a vast outdoor parade ground to mourn the 289 killed by the quake on Monday.

The photos, with the story, are heartbreaking.

Homeless struggle to cope in Abruzzo

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

The Times reports: L’AQUILA, Italy — Italy’s Civil Protection Agency continued setting up tents to house the homeless in and around L’Aquila on Wednesday after another night of fear as aftershocks continued to jolt this crumbling city. The death toll of the powerful earthquake that jolted L’Aquila on Monday rose to 251, officials said , and Pope Benedict XVI said he would visit the stricken area as soon as possible after Easter Sunday.

Please remember to contribute to a relief agency like this one.

Italy’s suffering

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

For most travelers, Italy is a land of history, beauty, generosity and gentility. Old Rome. Tuscan countrysides. Venician glass and gondolas. The devastating earthquake in Abruzzo is a bleak reminder of the other Italy — the Italy of poverty and suffering. In this other Italy, typically south of Rome, life is anything but sweet. This column in the Times, centering on the life and experiences of the great Italian writer Ignazio Silone, tackles that subject head on.

“The ties never break”

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The Times reports: New York Italian-Americans move to aid quakes victims: “There are few forces that so swiftly and surely reaffirm such immigrant ties as a natural disaster, and Monday’s 6.3 magnitude earthquake, which killed as many as 150 and left tens of thousands homeless, was no different.

MORE: ABC News offers a sad timeline of Italy’s earthquakes, the worst of which struck Reggio Calabria and Messina, Sicily on Dec. 28, 1908. The video here, at this Euronews site, is sad and shocking.


Monday, April 6th, 2009

From The New York Times: L’AQUILA, Italy — More than 90 people died and tens of thousands were left homeless when an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 shook central Italy early Monday morning, seriously damaging buildings in the mountainous Abruzzo Region east of Rome, officials said. The whole story is here.

HOW TO HELP: The Italian-American Museum is collecting donations to support the emerging relief effort in Italy. Joseph Scelsa, the museum’s preident, said that checks should be made out to “I.A.M. Earthquake Relief Fund 2009 and mailed or delivered to the museum, at 155 Mulberry Street, at the corner of Grand Street, in Little Italy. Donations may also be made by credit card by calling the museum at (212) 965-9000.

ALSO: The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) has set up a relief fund. Details here.