||Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed|
"Tutto il mundo e' paese" — All the World is One Country.
By: Dale Recinella
The Italians say, “Tutto il mundo è paese” — all the world is one country.
My little experiences here in Rome suggest it’s true. Especially when deep human needs are involved.
An example is the AIDS hospice run by Mother Therese’s sisters outside Rome. Young women, many with children,
are preparing to leave their loved ones behind. It feels so familiar. Am I in Albuquerque with the Brothers of
Damien of Molokai or in Rome with the Missionaries of Charity? Geography seems irrelevant. Language and politics
offer no barriers and no solutions here. The currency of choice is compassion.
So, too, with the soup kitchen and shelter for elderly homeless women run by these sisters in the Vatican wall.
Lina and Chiara, residents there, are morning sentinels at the big green door. Sitting around them on the black
cobblestones are Rome’s street people. As I leave them after Mass for my law office across from the Julio Cesare
Hotel near the Tiber, I must pause to get my bearings. Am I walking in Tallahassee from the Good News soup kitchen
on Georgia Street to my law office on Park and Monroe? Or am I walking in Rome from Gregorio Settimo to via degli Scipioni?
My deepest experience of this truth has been with the men at the homeless shelter near Circus Maximus where thirty
of these sisters care for 120 men and 30 women, the poorest of the poor. These are mortally ill refugees who made
it to the shores of Italy to die. It’s not the laundry to be hand-washed, the diapers to be changed or the sores to
be dressed that hits me hardest. It’s the people themselves. I’ve met them all before but with different names.
I’ve met them in the streets of Tallahassee and Baltimore, in the wards of hospitals in Jacksonville and Marianna.
But they had different names.
Now, Mario’s from an island off Italy. Manuel’s from Ethiopia. Romero’s from Scotland. My dearest is Salvatore.
He reminds me of Chester from the streets of Tallahassee.
Salvatore is 71. He schooled to the 3rd grade. He helps me with Italian.
Chester finished high school and worked successfully in a highly paid factory job. Then, he was injured in a
factory accident. A brain injury that will never heal. Now, he lives in the streets of America’s inner-cities.
Salvatore says we are family because we both have relatives in America. He asks me to tell him about a friend
in America. I tell him about Chester.
Salvatore is 4’10”. Chester is 6’.
Salvatore speaks no English. Chester speaks no Italian.
Chester calls me “Mister Dale.” Salvatore calls me “Il signor Avvocato.” (Mister lawyer.)
As we walk together in the ancient halls of San Gregorio, Salvatore tells me about his life on the fringes of
our technical and affluent society.
Chester once walked the streets of Frenchtown sharing with me about his life in and out of mental hospitals and
on the fringes of American society.
Salvatore and Chester have a wealth of common experience that transcends language and citizenship.
For Chester and Salvatore, all the world is one country.
If you’re reading this Chester, Salvatore says “Ciao!”
He says that you and he are family now.
You both have a brother in Rome.
First published: The Talahasse Democrat, May 1997
© 2008 Dale S. Recinella & The Talahasse Democrat.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.
I Was In Prison
News & Updates
This ezine is targeted for people involved in prison ministry or in stopping the death penalty, we think you will find helpful information for people who are undecided about capital punishment, for those who have never experienced the inside of a jail or prison, and for those who feel called to participate through prayer and adoration.
Your name and information will never be used or shared with anyone. We promise!
Dale S. Recinella
, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella
, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and
Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed