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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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Fidelis of Sigmaringen: If a poor man needed some clothing, Fidelis would often give the man the clothes right off his back. Complete generosity to others characterized this saint's life. 
<p>Born in 1577, Mark Rey (Fidelis was his religious name) became a lawyer who constantly upheld the causes of the poor and oppressed people. Nicknamed "the poor man's lawyer," Fidelis soon grew disgusted with the corruption and injustice he saw among his colleagues. He left his law career to become a priest, joining his brother George as a member of the Capuchin Order. His wealth was divided between needy seminarians and the poor. </p><p>As a follower of Francis, Fidelis continued his devotion to the weak and needy. During a severe epidemic in a city where he was guardian of a friary, Fidelis cared for and cured many sick soldiers. </p><p>He was appointed head of a group of Capuchins sent to preach against the Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. Almost certain violence threatened. Those who observed the mission felt that success was more attributable to the prayer of Fidelis during the night than to his sermons and instructions. </p><p>He was accused of opposing the peasants' national aspirations for independence from Austria. While he was preaching at Seewis, to which he had gone against the advice of his friends, a gun was fired at him, but he escaped unharmed. A Protestant offered to shelter Fidelis, but he declined, saying his life was in God's hands. On the road back, he was set upon by a group of armed men and killed. </p><p>He was canonized in 1746. Fifteen years later, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, which was established in 1622, recognized him as its first martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog Obedience means total surrender and wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor. All the difficulties that come in our work are the result of disobedience.

 
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