“It is in giving we receive.” St. Francis of Assisi.
These words echoed the halls of the Chase Center on October 25, 2007 as hundreds of supporters, volunteers and benefactors of the Ministry of Caring celebrated 30 years of serving the poor and homeless in Wilmington, Delaware. I was honored to be in attendance. St Francis of Assisi inspired the man behind the Ministry of Caring, Brother Ronald Giannone, a man I love, respect and admire like my own birth father.
St. Francis is “my saint”
Ironically St Francis of Assisi is the name of the Catholic grade school I attended from the 4th to 8th grade. As children we were taught about St. Francis and how he gave up a life of wealth to serve the less fortunate. As a child I wondered how and why someone would give up so many creature comforts to live a life of poverty, or what I perceived was poverty.
Brother Ronald offers comfort
Brother Ronald is an inspiration to so many in Wilmington, including me. As I have written previously, two years ago I was in a pit of despair and grief after the death of a close friend. My friend Jim Thompson died by suicide.
As a Catholic child I was taught that committing suicide is a mortal sin. When my friend Jim took his life I was tormented. I thought perhaps his soul may be damned forever.
One fall morning in November 2005 I attended Mass at Sacred Heart, the church associated with the Ministry of Caring. I remember standing in the pew listening to the sermon and crying about Jim and my loss.
Prayers and Comfort
After Mass, Brother Ronald approached me and asked why I was upset. He was very loving and supportive. I asked him if he would come with me to Jim’s house to pray with me and bless the house.
Brother Ronald assured me Jim’s soul, although wounded as it might be, would not burn in hell. Brother Ronald accompanied me to Jim’s house, right around the corner from Sacred Heart. He spread holy water in the foyer where Jim died, prayed for him and comforted me. I felt so much less alone. Thank you Brother Ronald!
Generosity of Spirit
Brother Ronald’s generous spirit inspired and comforted me when I was feeling lost, alone and desperate. When I spoke with him last evening in the great room at the Chase Center I reminded him about his kindness and thanked him for his love and support. He was his usual gracious self but he also told me he thinks of me and Jim every time he passes Jim’s old house.
One kindness. One hug. One smile. One blessing. One thing can mean so much to someone.
What one thing can you pass on to someone else to help them live a happier, healthier and better life?
St. Francis reminds us in giving we receive. In forgiving, we are forgiven. I could not agree more with these words and I am thankful I have the ability to share my heart, my hugs and my wealth with others. I am truly blessed.
May each of you reading this post be blessed!
P.S. On June 26, 2013 I was blessed with the opportunity to return Brother Ronald’s kindness by presenting my Stress Less, Laugh More session to the staff at the Ministry of Caring. I helped transform 60-70 MOC employees into into giggle machines (we even got our ‘Kazoos On’). Also, on August 1, 2013, I led a laughter session for the residents at House of Joseph II. Several photos of the 6/26 and 8/1 events are posted on the image carousel here. I am so blessed to be able to give back to an organization that gave me so much, and continues to give back to Wilmington, DE. God Bless you all!
I had the pleasure of joining Br. Ronald on a pilgrimage to Italy in November and made one of my childhood dreams come true. Not only did I visit the Vatican and come within a few feet from Pope Francis, but I also visited Assisi, the birthplace and home of St. Francis. Assisi was magical and serene. I felt very lucky to have had the opportunity to attend mass 3 times at the Basilica and walk in the steps of one of the most revered saints, Francis.
Here’s the photo I took of Brother as he walked up the hill toward the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.
Follow a Capuchin. You can’t go wrong!
St. Francis inspired me to return to Italy, study in Assisi and, with the help of Pope Francis (Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio) start a street evangelization and social media campaign promoting #PopeInPhilly. Visit www.PopUpPope.com to learn more. Grazie St. Francis and Papa!