Call it a 'sign of the times' but both our Provincial offices in Pittsburgh and our General Headquarters in Rome were highlighted during these weeks for 'signs.'
Pittsburgh Magazine highlighted our Provincial employee, Peggy Connolly, because the sign she updates frequently on our Capuchin Ministry Center in the 'burgh was noticed by a magazine writer there. She calls Peggy a 'heavenly messenger,' and we can't imagine a better description.
Meanwhile, in Rome, a new sign marks the memory of one of our Capuchin greats during World War II. His work and ministry for the Jewish people during the time of the holocaust earned the distinction of our headquarters being designated as a 'House of Life.' Read all about it below . . .
Peggy Connolly is Pittsburgh's 'Heavenly Messenger'
Pittsburgh Magazine featured Peggy Connolly in its December issue. Her topical and inspirational electronic messages on the 37th and Butler Streets sign in Pittsburgh, PA, caught the eye of magazine staffer Margaret Krauss.
The Q&A interview covered the gamut. Does Peggy do anything besides the sign? Well, all of us would have answered that with a resounding “yes.” She works in the finance department and keeps us all-up to-date on the financial side of our medical care. Peggy also makes sure all medicines get to Papua New Guinea for our friars there, and she also explains medical care benefits to all of us clueless friars.
Asked why she thinks the sign is important, Peggy responded: “You know, I might put up ‘Where there is God, there is hope.’ So someone might look up at that and say, ‘Wow!’ If someone is feeling alone or something, and they look up at the sign, they realize they’re not really alone. Hopefully. I don’t really know how many people notice that, but I hope they do.”
Peggy provided great background on the Capuchins: “The Capuchins have been serving Pittsburgh since 1873. St. Francis is the one who started the Capuchin Order so they follow his teachings, which is to serve the poor and spread the word of God. There is a poem [popularly] attributed to St. Francis: ‘Where there is hatred, let there be love; where there is doubt, faith.’ We want to spread his message through the message board as well!"
And, Peggy, you do a great job of doing just that. Congratulations for being recognized as a Pittsburgh mover and shaker! The full article is linked here.
In a ceremony conducted on Sunday, November 23, the Capuchin generalate was awarded the distinction of being a "House of Life" for its role in saving thousands of Jews from deportation to concentration camps during World War II. The plaqubene that was unveiled during the ceremony recalled the deeds of Père Marie-Benoît, a French Capuchin who risked his life to save the Jews in Marseilles. When his activities there were discovered by the Gestapo, he was assigned to teach in the International College in Rome, where he intensified his activities. In the photo, our Minister General Br. Mauro Jöhri, OFM Cap., Ms. Silvia Constantini are pictured at the unveiling of the plaque in Rome.
The honor was bestowed by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, which is named for a Swedish diplomat who worked to save the Jews in Hungary during the same period. Ms. Silvia Constantini and Mr. Jesus Colina, both vice presidents of the Foundation were on hand for the ceremony. About a dozen associates of the Foundation, including other members of the Righteous among the Nations, also participated.
While several other sites in Rome and Italy will receive this recognition, the Capuchin generalate was the first to be identified for recognition. Unfortunately, the ceremony had to be postponed, first because of the renovations that were underway at the generalate and then due to scheduling conflicts. The website of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation has an explanation of the Houses of Life initiative and a page about the choice of the Capuchin generalate. A fair summary of our brother Marie-Benoît's efforts can be found on their site.
Br. Mark Schenk, OFM Cap., International Councilor for the English speaking friars also recommends the recently-published book, Père Marie-Benoît and Jewish Rescue: How a French Priest Together with Jewish Friends Saved Thousands during the Holocaust, by Susan Zuccotti. The book is generally well-researched, except when it deals with the attitudes of Marie-Benoît's superiors and of the Holy See toward his work, where it veers into generalizations that are usually unsupported and sometimes contradicted by the evidence.