Cabrini film a miracle in the making

The seed for “Cabrini,” the soon-to-be-released biopic of America’s first saint, was planted nearly seven decades ago by a young man in a small church in Philadelphia. The year was 1955 and J. Eustace Wolfington was just starting out in business. Born and raised in the City of Brotherly Love, he was 23 years old at the time. A devout Catholic, Wolfington was hoping to fit in an early-morning Mass before the start of a long workday. By chance, he chose St. Donato Church, where he encountered a statue of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, who founded the parish’s school in …

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Neapolitan crooner Patrizio Buanne

Born in Austria to Neapolitan parents, Patrizio Buanne believes that Naples is more than just his ancestral home, it’s part of his cultural identity. “Think Tom Jones, Italian-style.” That’s how The Boston Globe described the voice and music of multilingual Neapolitan pop crooner Patrizio Buanne, who has sold more than 10 million records around the world. In an interview with Fra Noi, Buanne described his repertoire as “original and good, old sexy ballads and fun up-tempo tunes” rooted in the pop tradition of his European upbringing and identity. Buanne has released eight albums since his 2005 debut with “The Italian,” …

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Popera scion Matteo Bocelli

No longer merely the son of Andrea Bocelli, Matteo has emerged as a performer and star in his own right. September was a huge month for Matteo Bocelli. After three years of intensive work, the Italian pop classical crossover singer released his first solo album and then embarked on his first solo world tour, all in short order. “It is an incredible feeling to finally be able to share my first album with everyone,” Bocelli tells Fra Noi. “To be able to release it after so long is a satisfying feeling. I am excited and nervous to see what people …

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Raineri goes to bat for Columbus, Balbo

A longtime government official turned political consultant, Enza Raineri helped save three cherished icons from the trash heap of history by adhering to her crisis management playbook. What’s an ethnic group to do when its icons are under assault? There’s the traditional approach, which relies heavily on anger-fueled protest marches. Then there’s the Enza Raineri way. If you were to codify the crisis management playbook of this longtime government official turned political consultant, it would read something like this: Get your facts in order: Be prepared to let them know exactly where you’re coming from and why this issue is …

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Rep. DeLuca spearheads heritage month bill

With a bill establishing Italian American Heritage Month in Illinois hanging in the balance, State Rep. Anthony DeLuca pulled out all the stops to ensure its passage. In a political landscape that’s bitterly divided, Illinois Rep. Anthony DeLuca is an increasingly rare breed of elected official. “Anthony is a bridge builder. He’s a consensus builder,” Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans President Ron Onesti says. “His fellow legislators know that if their constituents have a need, Anthony will listen to them and do everything in his power to meet that need, regardless of their party, because it’s the right thing …

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WGN-TV anchor and reporter Dina Bair

An award-winning anchor and reporter for WGN-TV, Dina Bair leads a fulfilling triple life as a cancer crusader and mom of four. As a little girl growing up in suburban Philadelphia, Dina Bair liked to pretend to be a journalist and narrate accident scenes for imagined TV cameras while riding in her mother’s car. Her role model was broadcast journalist Diane Sawyer, who inspired her to pursue a journalism degree at Northwestern University and forge an award-winning career at WGN-TV in Chicago. Bair is an anchor for WGN Midday News and the medical reporter for WGN Evening News, as well …

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Undefeated: Nick and Marc Buoniconti

NICK BUONICONTI JR. Undersized for a linebacker, he dominated the NFL gridiron for 14 seasons before making a name for himself in the fields of law, business, broadcasting and medicine. The hardest thing about profiling Nick Buoniconti Jr. is having enough space on the page. The man accomplished more in one lifetime than most talented people could accomplish in 10. Let’s start from the beginning. Nick was born on Dec. 5, 1940, in Springfield, Massachusetts, to Nicholas Anthony Buoniconti Sr. and Pasqualina Mercolino, both of whom traced their roots to Naples. Nick Sr. married into a family that owned an …

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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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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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Auto racing legends Chip Ganassi

Passionate about auto racing since his go-kart days as a kid, Chip Ganassi has emerged as a dominant force on most of the sport’s major racetracks. After more than 30 years in car racing, Chip Ganassi boasts an impressive resume. The team he owns has won the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Brickyard 400, Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 64-year-old is owner and CEO of Chip Ganassi Racing, which operates teams in the IndyCar Series, WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, FIA World Endurance Championship and Extreme-E off-road racing. The enterprise has corporate offices …

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