maggio / May 2022
Father Bernie photo

Saint Leo's pastor receives kidney
from living donor
donor Adam
Many of you are aware that the pastor of Saint Leo's Church, Father Bernie Carman, S.A.C., has been ill for several years with kidney disease. More recently, he has had to muddle through dialysis three times per week. He has been a trooper fulfilling his duties at the parish the very best he could, in spite of not feeling healthy and being extremely tired.

Noticing one of Father's personal posts on facebook about the priest hoping to find a kidney match, a young man named Adam, 44, of New Jersey, willingly stepped up to be tested. Father Bernie, 69, knew him from his tenure at Adam's high school.

On May 6, the two men underwent transplant surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore - one to donate a kidney, the other to receive it. Ken Carman, Father Bernie's brother, reported late Friday night that the kidney transplant was successful and that both donor and recipient did well.

"Father is in good spirits," says Tina Cricchio DeFranco, parish Administrative Assistant, after her visit to the hospital. "He looked great and was in no pain to speak of." Father said he was pleasantly surprised about the transplant. "It went so much better than I expected."

The donor's mom, Barbara, reported that her son is doing well, too, albeit sore and moving around slowly. "He actually looked better than I thought he would," she said. The surgeon told Adam's wife Sarah that the "kidney was perfect."

Messages and prayers have poured in from concerned and caring parishioners and friends, even from folks who have never met the priest. Father Bernie joined Saint Leo's Church in September 2015; he was ordained in 1979.

"God is good. And so is our boy!" said Saint Leo's Deacon Doug Kendzierski,
about Father Bernie, his colleague and friend. "I also met Adam and thanked him. No greater love does a man have than to lay down his life for another."

One of Father's facebook posts last year was to encourage people to get tested to donate a kidney - not only for him but for others ... "My request is that anyone who thinks they might be eligible, to prayerfully consider it. Someone will be helped. A life may be saved."

For more information on organ donation:
Comprehensive Transplant Center
Johns Hopkins Medicine
600 N. Wolfe Street / Osler 625
Baltimore, Maryland 21287
410-614-9345 or 888-304-5069 (option 2)
While in Rome
by Maggi Ayd Reid
My parents Rita Anne Corasaniti and Frank J. Ayd, Jr., M.D. (on left) met while they were attending medical school at University of Maryland. Mom was the daughter of Joseph Corasaniti of Davoli, Italy, and Virginia, nee Lavezza, of Baltimore. Dad's parents were Dr. Francis J. “Frank” Ayd and Sadie Elizabeth, nee Baker, both born in Baltimore.

My grandfather was one of the five Corasaniti brothers who donated Saint Leo's altar, and whose names are carved into it. There is also a stained glass window in the church donated in memory of the Lavezzas, my maternal grandmother's family.

Dad was a world-renowned psychiatrist and drug expert, and traveled the globe lecturing for various drug companies. In 1962, when he was invited to Rome by Pope John XXIII to counsel him on the birth control pill, my parents decided to move our entire family to Italy for one year: seven girls and five boys; the oldest was age 15, the youngest, 2. (I am the oldest daughter - pictured on right - with two older brothers.) 

Dad broadcast on the Vatican Radio on medical and moral issues and taught at the Pontifical North American College and the Pontifical Gregorian University. The former pastor of Saint Leo's Church, Father Louis Lulli, had arranged for us to live at Casa Pallotti, a pensione run by the Pallottine Fathers. (Still run by them today as the four-star Hotel Ponte Sisto.) We lived there for one year during the Ecumenical Council, along with many cardinals, bishops, archbishops, and priests. 

After the year was up, my parents decided to stay longer. We moved to Monteverde Vecchio on the Janiculum Hill into a three-bedroom house without heat and hot water. Mom and I scrubbed clothes on a washboard and hung them outside to dry. My siblings and I attended Italian and French schools and my older brothers attended Notre Dame International School.

The week before Pope John XXII died in 1963, our family was supposed to have a private audience with him, but it was cancelled since he was sick. I camped out overnight in Saint Peter’s Square - with many others - as we prayed for him. Since I spoke Italian, I helped an American news network to film the Mass in the square. After it ended, they asked me to take the film to the airport to be flown to the United States. My boyfriend and I jumped on his Vespa to oblige. On the return, he dropped me at the bus stop where I hopped a bus up the hill for home. I was certain my parents were wondering where I was.

On the bus, people were reading the newspaper headline: “The Pope is dead.” I rushed home, explained to my parents what had happened, and said I was going back to Saint Peter’s Square. Back at the church, the news crew informed me the Pope had died earlier as the Mass was ending - which was why they needed the film at the airport immediately. 

Since they owed me for the favor, they allowed me to stand with their cameraman just outside the main door as the deceased Pope was carried into St. Peter's Church. 

Pope John XXIII had been my favorite. I first encountered him dressed in plain, priestly garb in a grocery store. He often "escaped" from the Vatican – not a good thing since a Pope is not allowed to leave Vatican City without police protection and escorts; it greatly upsets the Italian officials.
Pope Paul VI (served 1963-1978) succeeded Pope John XXIII. We were fortunate to have a private audience with him. One afternoon, I came home from school to find my Mom frantic. She handed me a beautifully engraved invitation to meet the pope the following day. A Vatican limousine was to pick us up at six o'clock in the morning - but Dad was in Paris! He was able to secure a fast flight and arrived home at three o'clock in the morning.

The bigger dilemma for my mother, however, was how to follow the protocol for a private audience. If you were married, you were to wear all black; if unmarried - all white. My sisters and I had white dresses, but had outgrown them. Mom spent considerable time ripping out hems to make our dresses longer. My younger brothers also had outgrown their First Holy Communion white suits, however; there was no time or availability to find others, so Mom decided the Pope would have to understand she could not get all 12 of her children dressed correctly on such short notice!
It was an unbelievable experience. The Pope spent much time with us. He stood in the doorway and gazed at our family for a long while. We were asked by the Cardinal to kneel until invited to stand. The Pope immediately approached Mom, blessed her, and helped her up. "Are all of these children yours?" he asked. Yes, she replied. "You had all 12 children?" Again she answered yes.

Onto Dad, the pope asked him the same two questions, then said he would pray for my parents as he felt surely they needed it. He spoke to each of us children - conversation switched from English to Italian to French. Then he gifted each of us with a gold medallion, which my parents had encased for us girls to wear as pendants. 

We were very blessed to have such wonderful experiences such as this one ... while we lived in Rome!

Parish anniversary banner unveiled
During the April 24 Tasting Tour of Italy fundraiser hosted by Little Italy Lodge Foundation, the St. Leo's 140th Anniversary campaign banner unveiling took place, which honors donors. The Foundation presented a $500 check to St Leo's pastor, Father Bernie Carman, to raise the campaign total to $313K. The banner will hang temporarily in the church. [Pictured l-r Paul Rao, Father Bernie Carman, Ray Alcaraz]
Lodge Foundation celebrates
Tasting Tour of Italy
group photo
A Tasting Tour of Italy fundraiser was hosted April 24th by the Little Italy Lodge Foundation in Saint Leo’s School Hall. The Foundation's mission is to award educational scholarships to students of Italian descent. Attended by 200 guests and volunteers, it celebrated food and vino from four regions of Italy, featuring food from Chiapparelli's, Joe Benny's Focacceria, Ovenbird Bakery, Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop, and Pastore’s Foods. The event netted over $11,000 through ticket sales, a 50-50 raffle, raffles for Taste of Italy Italian cookies, Frank Cipolloni's oil paintings, and gift cards for Little Italy restaurants and other local eateries. The Steering Committee was led by Tim Elliott with Maureen Chandler, Nancy Barbieri Wolfe, Sue Corasaniti, Armand Esposito, and Paul Rao. This event was made possible by the generous support of the following sponsors:

  • Associated Italian American Charities (AIAC)
  • Fusco Financial Associates (Tony Fusco)
  • Promotion Center for Little Italy (Suzanna Molino, Ray Alcaraz)
  • Mr. & Mrs. Anthony J. Montcalmo & Family
  • Perry Hall Insurance (Vince Piscopo)
  • Pandola Learning Center (Rosalie Ranieri)
  • Paul & Martina Rao
Congratulations to Maureen Chandler for being named the premier Volunteer of the Year by the Little Italy Scholarship Foundation. "It was a huge and happy surprise," she said. Maureen and other loyal volunteers worked tirelessly for months to make the event happen. Pictured at the Lodge (left to right): Tony Montcalmo, Paul Rao, Maureen Chandler, Gary Chandler.
"What an honor to work with such a collaborative team that focuses on the mission, and doing so with flair, flexibility and fun. Marvelous! Take pride in the fact that our Foundation brought people, pride, and pasta back to Little Italy … it all came off without a hitch."

~ Paul Rao
Scholarship Foundation President
Mother's Day crowning, Mass, procession,
a century-old tradition at St. Leo's
St. Leo's traditional annual May Crowning Mass and Procession on Mother's Day honors the Blessed Mother Mary - and all mothers - and is hosted by the Sodality of Our Lady, established at St. Leo's Church in 1889 by His Eminence James Cardinal Gibbons, affiliated with the Prima Primaria of Rome, Italy.
The Blessed Mother statue is crowned during the Mass then carried through the streets of Little Italy. St. Leo's Knights of Columbus St. Vincent Pallotti Council then serves a complimentary breakfast. Seven of our young parishioners will be making their First Holy Communion May 22.
The Sodality is still very much active in our parish today and meets on the fourth Sunday morning of the month. To learn more or to join, email its president Jodie Weyer. [Photo courtesy Vavere Family, Tom Scilipoti, Ray Alcaraz]
crowning Mother Mary 2022
Mother's Day Mass entrance
Little Italy events
VOLUNTEERS! Work at the festival in one of St. Leo's food stands - please volunteer today! A fun way for high school students to earn service hours.

VENDORS! 10x10 booth spaces are offered, 2 days, $300.

Email Sue Corasaniti for either volunteering
or vendor opportunities.
Honor your famiglia or sponsor a business
ad in this commemorative booklet
Host a Family
Remembrance page
This commemorative booklet will be created for the September 18th Little Italy Celebration. (You do NOT need to attend the event to host a page.) A portion of booklet revenue will be donated to St. Leo's.

Ideas for your family page:
  • Tell your story related to Little Italy.
  • Recall memories of Little Italy.
  • Write a message from your family.
  • Memorialize deceased family members.
  • Include photographs or vintage documents, such as ship ticket, passports, marriage certificate, etc.

Full page = $65
(up to 3 photos, 175 words)

Half page = $35
(1 photo, 80 words)
Blast from the past
Submitted by Joann Yori Wheeler

(left to right): Giovanni Iori (Yori) and Beatrice Pannoni Iori (Yori), residents of Little Italy, and Beatrice's brother, Nazarreno Pannoni, all originally from Fiuggi, Italy, a province of Frosinone.
 Include caption, people ID, location, approximate year, and your name.
Photos must be Little Italy or Italian immigrant-related.
from our email box
"Your newsletter made my mouth water for the great food items that the events promised. Thanks for keeping me in the loop."
~ Michael A. Molino (unrelated to the editor)

"Thank you … the article took my breath away!!!"
~ Sue Verdecchia

"I found Ron Tassi's email rather offensive. Is it prudent to let the newsletter email box become a political forum? I wanted to make clear that I bear you no personal ill will. I hate the sin (giving voice to intolerance), but not the sinner (the editorial staff that gave Mr. Tassi a platform). Please ask yourselves this question: did publishing his letter to the editor promote Little Italy and make the neighborhood a better place to live, work, worship, and play?"
~ Thanks, Scott Mittman, Little Italy

"I am in receipt of the book, Little Italy's Artist on Tony DeSales - a beautiful book - I will not break the spine. The cover says it all for me after all the time spent talking to Mr. DeSales on his corner. I want to preserve it to accompany the framed pieces he painted and personalized for me, which are on display.
As long as Mr. Tony wanted to talk, I wanted to listen and watch! We had an interesting friendship that included stopping crimes (he stopped a purse snatcher), assaults (we witnessed a young fella manhandling his date), and feeding passersby, all while he illustrated and his mamma sat nearby, patiently observing. Mr. Tony was a deep thinker; he was more than an artist - he was an ambassador of goodwill for Little Italy and the kindness it embodied. When I saw the movie, A Beautiful Mind, it made me think of him: beautifully quirky, mildly tormented, but always kindly true ... the way we wish all people to be.
I can't tell you how many of my family and friends receive your newsletters and call to discuss a photo, segment, or news. It is amazing! And we shared your books, too, like the Oprah Book Club, only far more superior! I have all your books and they are wonderful. Truly! What you are doing for the entire community is beyond marvelous. Your gift is well applied. Thanks for what you do with this newsletter, Little Italy, and all Italian heritage." ~ Nick Rizzi

"As usual, Neighborhood News was delightful, full of the best kinds of nostalgia and good information about the Neighborhood. Even the comments from your readers are a pleasure to read. That is, they are until we come to the screed from Mr. Ron Tassi.
It baffles me as to why you continue to adhere to your policy of allowing any reader of Neighborhood News to voice their opinions, no matter how tainted with political bias. Even though you have said that you are not a political organization, by printing the kind of hateful, perhaps even bigoted, commentary sent to you by Tassi, you provide those views a platform for dissemination to your readership and, by so doing, give readers the impression that you agree that his points are are at least worthy of consideration. They're not.
Obviously, my views on almost every opinion stated by Mr. Tassi (with the exception of the historical facts which are not arguable) are diametrically opposed to his. However, I would never expect you to print my political views in a sociable, friendly and basically happy newsletter and I'm disappointed that you think it's OK to print his."
~ Harris Factor, Columbia, MD

COMMENT FROM PROMOTION CENTER: Through the years, the cofounders of Promotion Center for Little Italy - Suzanna Molino and Ray Alcaraz - have had to discuss e-mails sent to the editor. In particular, when our Columbus statue was destroyed by rioters. In addition to space, topic, language - and yes, politics - we have had to make decisions to include or exclude certain mail. It is a judgement call and the opinions expressed in the emails received should not be viewed as the opinions of the Promotion Center for Little Italy. With Mr. Tassi's letter, it was simply a judgement call, with the knowledge that some express pride in heritage differently than others. With the recent news of the repair of Little Italy's Columbus statue, it brought in letters, like Mr. Tassi's. Our mission as Promotion Center is to promote Little Italy and provide news about it. As Columbus is a part of Little Italy, we will continue to provide information as warrants. We will certainly take opinions into account with regard to our email box.
Paid sponsors
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“I enjoy educating my clients on all of the mortgage programs available to them; to find the right fit for their specific need. I make my clients part of the mortgage process and not just subject to it.”

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