Elena Ferrarin

Elena Ferrarin is a native of Rome who has worked as a journalist in the United States since 2002. She has been a correspondent for Fra Noi for more than a decade. She previously worked as a reporter for The Daily Herald in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, The Regional News in Palos Heights and as a reporter/assistant editor for Reflejos, a Spanish-English newspaper in Arlington Heights. She has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Beato Giovanni Liccio Society President Sapienza

After 27 years as a member of the Beato Giovanni Liccio Society of Chicago, current President Tony Sapienza is as active and enthusiastic as ever. The group’s mission is to promote and foster the teachings of its patron, Beato Giovanni Liccio, a 15th century priest from Caccamo, Sicily, who spent his life helping the needy and the poor, and to whom several miracles are attributed. “We follow the same teachings, songs and worships as they do in Caccamo,” Sapienza says. “It has forged a bond between the Chicago Caccamesi and the town of Caccamo.” Sapienza, 56, has worked for American …

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Mazzini Verdi Ladies Club President Giovanna Carlino

Mazzini Verdi Club Ladies Club President Giovanna Carlino has made many deep friendships thanks to the club, and she encourages others to join and experience the same gift. “It’s an enjoyment,” she says. “All of us when we go, we are happy people, we greet each other like we haven’t seen each other for years but we saw each other yesterday.” A native of Palermo, Carlino moved to Chicago at age 19, following in the footsteps of her sister, and eventually got married and had one child. She and her first husband started a beauty business selling wigs and doing …

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Mazzini-Verdi Club President Bernard Ghilarducci

Bernard Ghilarducci and Luigi Banducci are close friends who have been at the helm of the Chicago-area Mazzini Verdi Club since about 2007, when they started alternating two-year presidency terms. Ghilarducci’s current term as president started Jan. 1. A retired engineer, he has been a member of the club since 1980, when he and his wife, Fidalma, joined following the example of friends. “We joined to be part of the Italian community,” he says. The social and cultural club derives its name from Giuseppe Mazzini, an Italian politician whose activism helped unify the country in 1861, and Giuseppe Verdi, the …

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Softball pitcher Christina Toniolo

A standout collegiate softball pitcher, Christina Toniolo took her game to an unimagined level after she was recruited by the manager of Team Italy. In early 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, softball pitcher Christina Toniolo had a feeling she needed to pick up a phone call whose ID said “Italy,” even though as a rule she ignored unknown calls. That decision changed her life. Toniolo, who will be 23 this month, is a member of Italy’s national women’s softball team. Though she graduated last year with a degree in biology from the University of Illinois Chicago, she chose …

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Mentoris Project founder Robert Barbera

A skilled wealth manager and real estate investor, Robert Barbera is pouring some of his profits into the creation of a series of books that showcase Italian and Italian-American heroes. Robert Barbera founded the nonprofit Mentoris Project with the goal of publishing accessible books about the lives of great Italian and Italian-American men and women who excelled in the arts, sciences, film, sports, music and many other realms. Some biographical subjects are well-known while others are more obscure, but all overcame obstacles and made a difference. Most of the biographies are historical novels, the rest are nonfiction. The Mentoris Project …

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Albrecht to preside over DuPage Justinians

As the incoming president of the DuPage County Chapter of the Justinian Society of Lawyers in Illinois, Kira N. Albrecht already has one goal: to bring back monthly or quarterly meetings held at restaurants, so members can socialize while enjoying appetizers and refreshments. “That kind of stopped during COVID, but I want to revive it,” she says. Albrecht is an attorney at the law firm Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick and Mirabella, based in Wheaton, Illinois, where she focuses on family law and appellate litigation. Lynn Mirabella and Lindsay Stella, both partners of the firm, are past presidents of the DuPage County …

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Villa Cesare taps lifelong member Malloy as prez

Jim Malloy, president of the Cesare Battisti Lodge, has enjoyed a lifetime of involvement with the organization. The lodge, which is affiliated with the Italio American National Union and The Italian Sons and Daughters of America, owns Villa Cesare Banquet and Events in Schererville, Indiana, about 40 miles south of Chicago. Malloy, who lives in nearby Saint John, Indiana, has been a member since he was a child, following in the footsteps of his father and his Italian immigrant grandparents. His great-uncle helped build the first lodge in East Chicago, Indiana. “I and my brothers and sisters were all involved,” …

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Mattern to preside over Arcolians

While growing up, pediatric dentist Dr. Jessica Mattern watched her father, a general dentist, open several dental practices and enjoy the autonomy and flexibility of running his own businesses. She initially was set on a career working with children with special needs, but eventually veered toward her father’s profession after going with him on dental medical missions to Mexico through Latin World Ministries. “There were doctors, surgeons, dentists, and the people who were the most enthusiastic were the dentists — they loved every aspect of what they did,” she recalls. Mattern was installed as president of the Chicago-based Arcolian Dental …

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Endurance icon Louis Scripa Jr.

Severely wounded by shrapnel during the Vietnam War, Louis Scripa Jr. battled his way back, establishing half a dozen fitness endurance records in as many years. 104,538 jumping jacks in 24 hours. 41,788 leg raises in 12 hours. 110,015 crunches in 17 hours. 133,581 crunches in 30 hours. 160,974 sit-ups in 82 hours. 70,715 sit-ups in 24 hours or less. If these sound like ridiculous, “there’s no way a person can do that” numbers, think again. They’re all fitness endurance feats accomplished by Air Force veteran Louis “Lou” Scripa Jr. between 1986 and 1992, and acknowledged by the Guinness World …

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Modern Michelangelo Jyl Bonaguro

Having taught herself to sculpt marble, Jyl Bonaguro has set her sights on a contemporary re-imagining of one of the medium’s towering masterworks. For years, Jyl Bonaguro had a vision so clear it was almost haunting: sculpting a female figure in marble on the scale of Michelangelo’s David. Bonaguro, the current president of Chicago Sculpture International, is fundraising for her project to create Modern Athena, which has received grants from the Illinois Arts Council and the Cliff Dwellers Arts Foundation. Bonaguro tells Fra Noi about her passion for art, how she found her way to sculpting, and her determination to …

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