2013-04-12 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

Commentary By John Culotta

The past weeks have been similar to a dream and nightmare because I witnessed my mother pass away from this world and enter the universe and memories of family and friends. She was a remarkable woman with a formidable personality.

She left Sicily and always was in love with her native land, her adopted land, and her belief in a just and loving god. Her dedication to her faith was reflected in her work in her parish church that helped women with providing for their children in difficult circumstances. Catholic social teaching is about charity but also about seeking the causes of social injustice with the intention of changing society through Christian activism.

My mother died the day the new pope was selected by the College of Cardinals in Rome. She would have been happy that he chose the name of Francis. She would have been proud he was a son of Italian immigrants. Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope and this means he is a member of the church’s intelligentsia. There is nothing more important to any European mother than a bright child who studies diligently. Saint Francis is one of the patron saints of Italy. That would have made mom proud. He also was an advocate for cordial and respectful relations with the Islamic world. I wonder if our new pope chose the name of Francis with this fact in mind. We know that when he was a bishop in Argentina, Pope Francis co-authored a book with a rabbi and had cordial relations with the leaders of the Orthodox Church in that country. In fact, the leader of the Orthodox Church attended his inaugural service, the first time in history.

My mother would have watched the new pope’s moves on her beloved catholic television station EWTN. My entire family will miss my mother. Her love for this land was phenomenal - the kind of love only a person who chose to live, work, and pray in a strange land can have. She felt this nation is a blessed one because most Americans do not have to make a decision to emigrate that she and millions of others had to, just to live with a minimal level of decency. Her sacrifice of leaving her native culture, the language of Dante and Verdi, her family that she missed terribly, and the beauty of Sicily, allowed her and her children to understand our obligation to seek justice for the foreigner who comes to our shores for employment. It taught me that social justice for all workers benefits all in society. My legacy is precious.

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