I keep my professional reading to just part of the day (unless I'm thoroughly involved with the book, which oftentimes happens!), so, for enjoyment, I've been reading:
Night Over Water by Ken Follett
Murder Offscreen by Denise Osborne
Phantom Nights (a great ghost story!) by John Farris
Ascent into Hell by Andrew M. Greeley
Secrets (a series) by Kristen Heitzmann
All Great Reads!
On the professional side:Priest to Mafia Don
By Father Patrick Bascio
ISBN: 10: 0-8283-2157-4
I may have just read an upcoming best seller! Priest to Mafia Don by Father Patrick Bascio, published just recently, is a love story like no other! Caught between love for family, God, a woman, and his own destiny, Carlo Albanese was forced by heritage to make choices that have been faced by few others, if any. Priest to Mafia Don “is a work of fiction based on reality. It is the story of a priest, Carlo Albanese, nephew of the famous Godfather, Julio Albanese...”(p. 6)
As the life of Maria Amaretto’s mother faded away, Maria sought out some way to send her mother from her small Sicilian town of Trapani to either the United States or England for the surgery that could save her life. After contacting everybody she knew that could possibly provide funds for the trip, Maria finally went to see Don Luigi Navarro, the local Mafia chief, who also refused to help her. Frustrated and angered, Maria realized that it had been evil to turn to a murderer—that she had betrayed God by depending on a bad man and sought her Lord’s forgiveness.
Maria spent the next fourteen days in Novena prayers imploring the Blessed Mother for a cure. “On the morning of the fourteenth day, the doctors...announced: “Against the greatest odds and possibly miraculously, Philomena Amaretto is responding favorably...” The local priest declared, “A miracle...” In response to answered prayer, Maria made the traditional “Promise” to offer her first-born son to the Church. (p. 12) Thereafter, she went to Tony Albanese, who had loved her since their days in secondary school, and sought his support of her promise. His response was, “I would be honored to be betrothed to a woman who, God willing, shall one day provide His church with a priest.” (p. 13). Tony was Julio Albanese’s brother.
And so the male child, Carlo, was born and learned early that he had been dedicated to the priesthood. His entire childhood was centered on his future and he rejoiced in his destiny. On his First Communion, his parents “bought a Missal that opened in the middle, releasing a thin cardboard replica of an altar prepared for Mass...Before leaving for school, Carlo would say a “Mass.” (p. 21)
Totally committed to become a priest, yet, reading his story, there were signs, early in his life, that Carlo perhaps lacked the love and joy of being a servant to God and man.
Julio Albanese was chosen unanimously as the godfather upon the death of Vito Massaro. Newspapers suggested “he will bring a new and more progressive style to the organization.” (p. 35) Julio soon sought to have members of his family with him and so Tony moved his family to the United States. Thus Carlo grew with two major influences—his dedication to God and the priesthood and his commitment to his family.
And while Carlo grew, Julio became the most powerful Don in New York.
While Carlo studied and finally became a priest, Julio grew older and ill. In fact, he was forced to resign as Don due to his limited life expectancy. Carlo’s father was expected to move into Julio’s position as Don. He was murdered! Julio’s second brother became Don; he was murdered... In order to not give too much of this story away, I move to the point where Carlo as asked to take leave from the church and fill in as Don to get his family’s businesses back to top performance.
And that is when he discovered that his brother’s wife was seeking help to divorce his brother! And they became close...
Father Bascio includes an interesting little story in the Introduction about how this Sicilian organization was formed and named. Both Julio and Carlo dreamed of moving the Mafia back to its original goals and to legitimize the businesses of the Mafia. Carlo’s struggles within the Church, with his awakening sexuality and interest in his own brother’s wife, together with the cries of his family to help them during the crisis that followed Julio’s resignation placed tremendous pressure upon Carlo. And, that is why the book becomes a page-turner! For Carlo’s response resulted in a maturity of a man like no other...a man who finally left the priesthood to become Don of the Mafia!
Written as a novel, the author has allowed us to see into the hearts and the minds of the characters that were patterned after a real family. Watching the jealousy between family members, seeing the good and bad within them makes this an exciting read. However, I watched closely as Carlo struggled with the pain, the frustration, the anger, and, yes, the love he experienced as he matured and was forced to make the greatest decision in his life!
Surely Father Bascio has given us a best seller, at least in my opinion...it’s a MUST-READ!
G. A. Bixler IP Book Reviewer