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Faces of Poverty View Comments
By Photos by Gregory A. Shemitz

Years of smoking—combined with his job as a truck driver for a gas company prior to his retirement—have damaged Patsy Marino’s lungs. He relies on a tracheotomy and endures breathing treatments every three hours.
THERESA AND PATSY MARINO are two people who need much but have little. Patsy, 73, who worked for a gas company as a truck driver until he became sick in 1990, requires constant care. Suffering from end-stage chronic obstructive lung disease, he cannot breathe without a ventilator, which he’s been on since 1999. Patsy needs his wife’s help in every area of daily life. He cannot eat, bathe, walk, or dress himself without Theresa. If his ventilator stops working, even for a moment, he could die. She cannot leave his side. The two are, literally, prisoners of their home.

It’s a home they’re holding on to tenuously. The Marino family is among the 46.2 million Americans who struggle with poverty every day. They live off a limited income from Social Security. Food stamps, the food pantry at Mary Queen of Heaven in Brooklyn, Meals on Wheels, and a Greek neighbor with a flair for baking assist them as often as possible.

Catholic Charities also has helped. When the Marinos’ refrigerator broke and the landlord refused to replace it, Theresa, 68, sought help from caseworker Fia Sarmi of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens.

Despite the help—for which they are grateful—it’s still a rough road.

“I get disgusted sometimes—I’m not going to lie,” Theresa says. “It’s very hard, very hard.”

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Gregory A. Shemitz is a photojournalist based in Stony Brook, New York. He is a regular contributor to The Long Island Catholic and Catholic News Service. His website is 3VPhoto.com. Text for this story was written by Assistant Editor Christopher Heffron.

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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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