Children often think of parents as perfect, though as Robert Frazzetta, OFM, reflects: “As an adult, I began to understand that my youthful notion of my father’s perfection was really a childish fantasy.” Still, he witnessed many saintly acts by his father. The reflection below was submitted in honor of Father’s Day on June 19.
My dad could do anything. The son of Sicilian immigrants who didn’t go beyond the 10th grade, he was able to build a radio in a shoebox and a phonograph out of scrap metal and pieces of old rubber. My dad was always ready to help my brothers and me with our homework — especially math. He knew all the times tables by heart, and loved working with numbers. He was a whiz at geography and spent hours reading our science books trying to fathom the vastness and complexity of the universe. I’m not sure if he and my mom made the huge investment of purchasing the deluxe set of Encyclopedia Britannica for him or for us boys.
My dad was my hero, and I was so proud of him. I was convinced he was a genius and my friends believed me because they were always at our house witnessing his brilliance.
He could even cook and bake! The birthday parties of my youth were the envy of every kid in my class. My dad made the best pizza in Cedarhurst, N.Y. — well, that really wouldn’t have been much of a challenge — possibly in all of Nassau County!
My birthday parties were an endless feast of my dad’s very earthy cuisine as well as the talk of my classroom at St. Joachim School. I was so proud and thankful that I had a dad who could do anything.
Living up to His Name
My dad was also a saint. He loved his name — Santo — and made it clear that he lived to fulfill the expectation the name demanded.
His faith was somewhat unconventional and so living up to his name did not include performing pious acts or displaying religious routines. My dad’s faith was relational and simple, so in his relations and simplicity, my dad was saintly.
There were issues in my family like any other, and the journey was not always smooth for us. As an adult, I began to understand that my youthful notion about my father’s perfection was really a childish fantasy. Even so, I never let go of the idea that he was a saint.
My dad could see the good in most things (except, of course, when my three brothers brought home their non-Italian fiancées). He saw the goodness of life and thoroughly enjoyed it, especially when it was accompanied with red wine. Never becoming anxious, driven or troubled, he walked through trying days always thinking before acting and considered many options before despairing.
Isn’t that what saints do?
Feeling His Presence
My dad loved to host parties and enjoyed bringing the family together around a table covered with his best foods. He cooked, he sang, he told stories (that were totally untrue) and he made everyone feel good about life.
Isn’t that what saints do?
My dad, Santo, the man who could do anything, died a holy death last Advent. I feel his presence always, and I am so grateful to have my new patron saint praying for me in his own unique way before the Throne of Mercy.
— Br. Robert, who grew up on Long Island, N.Y., lives at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J. This fall, he will begin teaching theology at Oratory Preparatory School, Summit, N.J., after many years at DePaul Catholic High School in Wayne, N.J. His father — shown in the rear photo with his wife, Vita, and Robert — died Dec. 1, 2010.
Editor’s note: Friars who would like to submit a reflection on a seasonal topic for a future issue of HNP Today are asked to contact Jocelyn Thomas, in the HNP Communications Office by email or phone (646-473-0265 ext. 321).