Ron Polaniecki

Ron Polaniecki is a lifelong Chicagoan with decades of experience in communications management for national and local trade and professional associations. Now retired, Ron continues to contribute freelance articles for a variety of business and specialty publications. For some 30 years, Ron has been a volunteer leader for Chicago Shares, a not-for-profit that helps the needy. He holds an undergraduate degree from DePaul University in Education and a graduate degree in American History from the University of Illinois, Chicago. Ron and his wife live on the Northwest Side and are active church volunteers and help with their 12 grandchildren.

Theologian and author John Cavadini

A man of faith as well as letters, John Cavadini teamed up with his daughter to co-author a book that makes the lives of saints accessible to young and old alike. “Saints: A Family Story” is a collection of affectionately told and gorgeously illustrated narratives of 34 holy men and women. The title is fitting, given that the saints are “presented as a ‘Family,’ living in many different times and places,” according to the authors, the father-daughter team of John and Catherine (Katie) Cavadini, who wrote the book for friends and family. While the book is written for children, its …

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Service animal memorial has Italian connection

Eight dogs and three horses that gave their lives while serving alongside Chicago police officers were recently honored in a new memorial. Local sculptor Jessica LoPresti designed and sculpted the piece along with fellow artist Oscar Leon. The work was created at the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt Amrany in Highwood, Illinois. “Our intention was to create a meaningful and moving tribute dedicated to the K9 and equine units of the Chicago Police Department that highlights the bond between the animals and their human partners, and to honor their service and sacrifice,” says LoPresti, a Chicago-area resident and DePaul University graduate. …

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New Cabrini statue boasts an Italian back story

A new statue of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was unveiled on Oct. 15, 2022, in the courtyard of Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral in celebration of the 75th anniversary of her canonization. Born in Italy, Mother Cabrini was the first American citizen to be canonized, and her statue in Chicago has a great Italian backstory. The sculpture was created by Lou Cella and Jessica LoPresti, both of whom are of Italian descent. While Cella’s name isn’t well known, his works are. They include sculptures of baseball legends Harry Caray, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo at Wrigley Field, as well …

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St. Giovanni Battista Scalabrini

A bishop in Italy during the first great wave of migration to the Americas, Giovanni Battista Scalabrini founded two religious orders and a lay society to tend to their spiritual and temporal needs. The year is 1881, and the setting is the Milan train station. A 41-year-old Italian bishop watches as 300-400 migrants — young and old, men, women and children, from different northern provinces — wait to board a train to Genoa. They will all soon be headed to America on a steamship voyage fraught with sickness and danger. The middle-aged prelate is overcome with sadness as he looks …

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Sculptor Lou Cella

The talent behind some of the nation’s most beloved sculptures, Lou Cella developed a penchant for “getting it right” while making ravioli with his family as a youth. Chicago sculptor extraordinaire Lou Cella speaks passionately about a recent documentary that captures the Beatles in the act of crafting “Get Back” and other hit songs. He is fascinated by the creative flame that springs to life as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr conjure some of rock’s most iconic music and lyrics. Cella’s awestruck reaction to the Fab Four’s genius is often shared by people who witness the …

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St. Frances Cabrini

Renowned throughout the world for her inspirational missionary work, St. Frances Cabrini had a special place in her heart for the Windy City. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini is revered in Catholic circles for her holiness and fervent devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and she is known throughout the world for establishing dozens of hospitals, schools and orphanages in 16 countries. Although her work spanned two continents, Mother Cabrini had a special connection to Chicago, tirelessly serving the immigrant Italian community there for decades and eventually passing away in a hospital she helped to create. A U.S. citizen since …

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