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JANUARY 20, 2011 Volume LXXXV • Number 11


Family of the Year

Recalling Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the STOP conference at Siena College confronts prejudice: Page 16

Knights of Columbus single out the Petrillose family of Burnt Hills: Page 7

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Catholic connects Copake to Nepal BY ANGELA CAVE


David Valentino has hitchhiked and freight-jumped his way around America, bunked in Buddhist monasteries in the Himalayas and slept in family sheds in Nepal. Along the way, faith saved him from throwing his life away, led him to his Nepali wife and called him to work with Catholic missions abroad. Today, the 34-year-old parishioner of Our Lady of Hope in Copake Falls is working with his parish to fund education projects in slum mountain villages outside the main cities of Nepal. A Nepali Catholic priest who built a school in Pokhara, a large city in the center of the country, updates the Valentinos on the needs of his people. Our Lady of Hope parish, a 2010 merger of St. John Vianney parish in Claverack and St. Bridget’s in Copake Falls, is accustomed to working with foreigners. St. Bridget’s was linked


to a parish in Nicaragua for almost two decades; that relationship continues. Though Our Lady of Hope has not yet drafted a formal plan to sponsor what Mr. Valentino calls the Asha Outreach Project, many parishioners have sent individual donations and patronized a sale of handmade Nepali wool clothing. “Asha” means “hope” in Nepali and Hindi. “I think it’s great,” said Bill VonAncken, treasurer for human development at the parish. “You have someone from your own parish doing basically missionary work — your very own, doing the Lord’s work.” The Valentinos’ first project was to pay for the surgery of a low-income Nepali man with a gangrenous leg. Donations from Copake Falls Catholics funded a new prosthetic limb. The Nepali man had been fired from his carpentry job because of his disability. His wife had just given birth to their first child. Mr. Valentino stepped in to find the family housing. Other projects have related to building and funding four education outreach centers — including one in Gagangauda, a village 45 minutes east of Pokhara. Less than $400 (U.S.) per year is an average salary for many parents of the new school’s 112 students. Almost 340 students are served by the different centers. Mr. Valentino estimates that maintaining the outreach cenCATHOLIC CONNECTS COPAKE TO NEPAL, SEE PAGE 3

HOLY SPIRIT PARISH in Gloversville held a talent show last weekend for youth and adults. At left, Padaric Decker entertains; for more photos, see page 9. (Nate Whitchurch photo)


Pope John Paul II to be beatified BY JOHN THAVIS C AT H O L I C N E WS S E RV I C E

Vatican City — Pope Benedict XVI approved a miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II’s intercession, clearing the way for the late pope’s beatification on May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope Benedict’s action Jan. 14 followed more than five years of investigation into the life and writings of the Polish pontiff, who died in April 2005 after more than 26 years as pope. The Vatican said it took special care with verification of the miracle, the spontaneous cure of a French nun from Parkinson’s disease — the same illness that afflicted Pope John Paul. Three Vatican panels approved the miracle, including medical and theological experts, before Pope Benedict signed the official decree. “There were no concessions given here in procedural severity and thoroughness,” said Cardinal Angelo Amato, head of the Congregation for Saints’

Causes. The Vatican said it would begin looking at logistical arrangements for the massive crowds expected for the beatification liturgy, which will be celebrated by Pope Benedict at the Vatican. Divine Mercy Sunday had special significance for Pope John Paul, who made it a Church-wide feast day to be celebrated a week after Easter. The pope died on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005. With beatification, Pope John Paul will be declared “blessed” and thus worthy of restricted liturgical honor. Another miracle is needed for canonization, by which the Church declares a person to be a saint and worthy of universal veneration. The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, summed up much of the sentiment in Rome when he said Pope John Paul would be beatified primarily for the spiritual gifts of faith, hope and charity

that were the source of his papal activity. The world witnessed that spirituality when the pope prayed, when he spent time with the sick and suffering, in his visits to the impoverished countries of the world and in his own illness “lived out in faith, before God and all of us,” Father Lombardi said. Father Lombardi said the Vatican was preparing to move Pope John Paul’s body from the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica to the Chapel of St. Sebastian in the basilica’s upper level at the time of beatification. The chapel, on the right side of the church after Michelangelo’s Pieta, is accessible and spacious, an important factor given the stream of pilgrims who come to see the pope’s tomb. Father Lombardi said Pope John Paul’s casket would not be POPE JOHN PAUL II TO BE BEATIFIED, SEE PAGE 6



January 20, 2011


Catholic connects Copake to Nepal CATHOLIC CONNECTS COPAKE TO NEPAL, FROM PAGE 1

ters will cost almost $15,000. Most schools in Nepal are government-funded, but their quality tends to be less than that of private schools. The greatest need lies in the villages, where teachers usually work without pay and students leave at early ages to work in their parents’ trades. Electricity is limited throughout the country. Most villagers easily find water flowing from glaciers, but city residents buy catch basins to collect rainwater on their roofs. The last time the Valentinos stayed in Nepal, they paid for a truck to pump water into a holding tank after the public water failed to arrive. Mr. Valentino seeks sponsorship for 40 individual students — some from the villages and some from St. Francis School in Pokhara, which was built by Rev. Anthony Fernandez, a Missionary of St. Francis Xavier. Sponsors would pay for students’ uniforms, school supplies, medical needs and food; some students are orphaned, some

disabled, some poor. Mr. Valentino didn’t always know his purpose. He finished high school in Copake, but left art school before graduating. He donated his childhood savings to charity and lived on the streets up and down both U.S. coasts for two and a half years. After running into trouble several times, developing a drug addiction and feeling responsible for the demise of his friend’s marriage, he planned to end his life in the Hudson River in Manhattan. But music wafting through the streets inspired him to visit an outreach center run by an evangelical church. Members there helped him through the rough patch. Mr. Valentino returned home — and returned to the Catholic Church. He became active in his parish, even considering studying theology. After another stint at art school, he worked 16 hours a day as a manager for a multimedia distribution company. One of his employees there, a Russian, described an event in India about which Mr. Valentino

had had a dream. “I had a feeling inside like, ‘Wow, this is really more than a coincidence,’” Mr. Valentino said. “I’m really meant to go to this place.” He made his way to India in 2001, studying interfaith topics. During the Maha Kumbha Mela in Allahabad, a pilgrimage that attracted 60 million people, he witnessed devotional sacrifices and took a ritual dip in the Ganges River. Mr. Valentino returned to the U.S. and worked for his father’s construction company, took trips to Nicaragua with the Copake Falls parish and spent three months staying in Catholic seminaries in Thailand, where he worked on communal farming projects. In 2005, he returned to India to work for the Missionaries of Charity and others, splitting his time between caring for the elderly and teaching English to children. On breaks, he traveled and worked at orphanages and nursing homes in other parts of India. Mr. Valentino even sat with the 15-year-old boy known as “Little Buddha,” who meditated in the woods for eight months without food. Then, at age 29, Mr. Valentino decided to move to Nepal, a country he had only briefly visited. His house mother introduced him to his future wife, Sanju, whose full name means “flawless victory.” Sanju, 19 at the time, was a Christian convert from


Believers unite across religious lines BY CASEY NORMILE INTERN

For the second year in a row, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews and Sikhs will gather together to talk in the pursuit of understanding and peace. Representatives from each religion will meet Jan. 30 at the Hindu Community Center in Loudonville to discuss how the teachings of their faith can lead to peace — and to find common elements with other religions. The symposium, “In Pursuit of World Peace and Harmony,” is an effort by coordinator Tarik Malik to aid the Capital Region through the work of faith com-

munities. This year’s conference will feature Monshin Naamon, the abbot for the Buddhist Jiunzan Tendaiji; Dr. Jyoti Swaminathan, a philosophy teacher at the Hindu Temple; Imam Naseem Mehdi, vice president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community; Rabbi Yaakov Kellman, executive director of Jewish Educational Resources of New York; and Jagmohan Singh Chahal, president of the Sikh Community of the Capital District. Barbara DiTommaso, director of the Albany Diocese’s Commission on Peace and Justice, will be the representa-

tive for the Catholic Church. “When different religious traditions get together and socialize, that’s helpful enough,” said Ms. DiTommaso. “Then they can get to know each other. But when they begin to talk about their beliefs, it reaches a whole new depth.” The movement toward cooperation and understanding between faiths has always been close to Ms. DiTommaso’s heart. For three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., she organized interfaith prayer services for peace in the world; through the years, she has been able to meet and work with many people of other faiths.

Buddhism. Mr. Valentino initially worried about their age difference, but knew within two meetings that Sanju was right for him. “I allowed the Holy Spirit to make the decision for me,” he said. The couple’s son, Mallu, was born in 2007. Mallu and his mother were baptized in the Catholic Church the following year. The family now has residences in both Copake and Pokhara.

Mr. Valentino is currently sidelined by an illness, but plans to go back into construction when his health returns. He says his faith has played a large role in his mission work. “It’s been my foundation because there’s definitely been plenty of challenges and dark nights,” he said. “It’s helped me maintain focus.” Without faith, he said, his accomplishments “wouldn’t even have been possible.”


painted and repaired a 20-room school. Other projects have included replacing windows, repairing plumbing and painting blackboards. Mrs. Darkangelo and her husband are electricians, but some volunteers with no technical skills train as they go. Others tutor children during the visits. The Belize trips started Send donations after a parish- to the Church ioner took a of the Holy pilgrimage to Spirit, Belize M e d j u g o r j e Mission, 149 and struck up South Main a friendship Street, with her guide, Gloversville, Rev. Oliver NY, 12078. For Smalls, of information, call Carolyn Belize. Father Darkangelo, Smalls, now 883-7446. administrator of Holy Redeemer Cathedral in Belize City, visits the Gloversville parish annually. Donations to the Belize mission fund supplies; volunteers pay their own way. The Darkangelos return annually. “It’s a wonderful feeling,” Mrs. Darkangelo said. “The people of Belize are just magnificent. They don’t have a lot, but they laugh a lot.”

Catholic carpentry benefits Belize BY ANGELA CAVE


A group of Catholics from Holy Spirit parish in Gloversville will travel to Belize next month to repair and renovate a primary school damaged by floods from an autumn hurricane. Though their two-to-threeweek trip will likely not cover the whole job, the group hopes to fix walls, windows and doors at the 1,000-student Cathedral School in Belize City. Belize City is the largest city in the Central American nation, said Holy Spirit parishioner Carolyn Darkangelo. This is the eighth year the parish has sent a group to Belize; volunteers previously repaired and refurbished five schools and transformed two residential buildings into churches. Mrs. Darkangelo recalled their first trip, when they rewired a one-room school in Rancho Dolores, painted walls and repaired furniture. Years later, in Ladyville, they rewired, “The people I’ve met through this work are just the best that each religion can produce,” she told The Evangelist. “They are the kindest, most respectful people I’ve ever met.” Ms. DiTommaso began her work in interfaith dialogue because she saw a great need to erase the fear that existed between religions due to misunderstandings and the importance of seeing Christ in everyone, even those of different mind. Her goal in attending the symposium, she said, is to develop a two-way street: “I’m expecting to learn more about these other faiths and I hope to shed some light on Christianity for others. You don’t want to step on others’ beliefs and you don’t want anyone to trample yours.” Through conferences such as

this one, she said people of different faiths can come to accept their differences in order to help others. “The goal is not to make one mish-mashed religion, but to get together and help those who are hurting: the poor, the homeless, and the needy,” said Ms. DiTommaso. “This kind of altruistic help is what will reveal to the world what we all believe: that God’s love is unconditional.”

“In Pursuit of World Peace and Harmony” will be held Jan. 30, 3-6 p.m., at the Hindu Community Center, 450 Albany Shaker Rd., Loudonville. The conference is free but registration is required; call Tarik Malik, 542-5801, or email interfaithsymposium2011@gmail.c om. For further information, call Barbara DiTommaso, 453-6695.

Evangelist N12c #2  

Family of the Year Volume LXXXV • Number 11 Recalling Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the STOP conference at Siena Colle...

Evangelist N12c #2  

Family of the Year Volume LXXXV • Number 11 Recalling Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the STOP conference at Siena Colle...