BUFFALO, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University President Sister Margaret Carney, OSF, shared her memories of a World War II hero last week at the Interfaith Holocaust Commemoration at Westminster Presbyterian Church here.
The annual community event, held on April 19, honored those who lost their lives and those who tried to save lives during the Holocaust. It is held in conjunction with Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom Hashoah, which this year fell on April 15.
Sr. Margaret talked about Don Aldo Brunacci, who died Feb. 1 in Assisi, Italy, at the age of 92.
Margaret’s experience as a student in Italy led to her friendship with Brunacci, a priest of the Diocese of Assisi who assisted in the rescue of more than 200 Jewish refugees during World War II. Margaret brought Brunacci to the campus of St. Bonaventure on two occasions, promoting opportunities for Christian-Jewish dialogue about the Holocaust.
In 2002, the university awarded Brunacci an honorary degree and, in March 2004, St. Bonaventure honored him with its first National Gaudete Medal during a special program at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
During World War II, with the help of other clerics, Brunacci arranged the printing of false documents for the Jews, allowing them to obtain official stamps to aid in their escape.
Brunacci put his life on the line when he lodged Jewish families in his own residence. On May 15, 1944, the Nazis arrested Brunacci, transporting him to a concentration camp, but never discovering the family in hiding, Margaret said. The Allies freed him and other prisoners on June 4 when they entered Rome.