In the Shadow of the Steeple
Who is Brother Ronald Giannone, and what drives him to do the things he does?
(page 10 of 10)
There are the people at St. Francis Hospital whom Giannone thinks “should be canonized.” Its Saint Clare Medical Outreach Van travels the streets of Wilmington delivering care to the homeless, poor and uninsured. The van was Giannone’s idea, but St. Francis absorbs its costs and provides the doctors.
There was Gary M. Isaacs, a dentist who for 12 years drove to Wilmington every day from Milford, offering full dental services to the poor, and making a fraction of the salary he would have in private practice.
Those who serve the ministry don’t need to see their names in print—there wouldn’t be enough space to list them anyway. Rakestraw summarized it best: “Working with the friars has made me a better person.”
Don’t tell the friars that. They’re not big on flattery, nor do they enjoy being called God-like. “We know people mean that in a good way,” says Ramirez, “but it’s an uncomfortable compliment.”
Giannone understands innately that the dichotomy between wealth and poverty may always exist. That makes him angry. Yet he’s content, probably because he knows his purpose. He recognizes that courtroom dramas aside, his is an extraordinary, ordinary life.
“I have the great privilege of serving the poor,” says Giannone. “I am the luckiest man in the world.”
The Ministry of Caring offers myriad programs that serve the poor. Its budget is north of $10 million. This timeline depicts the ministry’s growth.
1977 Hope House I (emergency shelter for homeless women)
1979 Emmanuel Dining Room (the first dining room for the hungry in Wilmington)
1982 Emmanuel Dining Room (second dining room for the hungry)
1983 Hope House Transitional Residence (transitional housing for single women)
Mary Mother of Hope House II (emergency shelter for homeless women with children)
1985 Job Placement Center (employment and training service for the disadvantaged)
House of Joseph I (emergency shelter for homeless employable men)
1986 Capuchin Poor Clares arrive from Mexico. They establish St. Veronica Giuliani Monastery, a cloistered community.
1987 Emmanuel Dining Room (third dining room for the hungry)
1988 Mary Mother of Hope House III (emergency shelter for homeless women with children)
1989 Distribution Center (houses supplies, furniture and clothing for those in need)
1992 St. Clare Medical Van (outreach partnership with St. Francis Hospital offering health care services where the poor in Wilmington live)
Child Care Center (childcare and early learning for offspring of the poor, homeless and working poor)
1995 St. Francis Transitional Residence (housing for homeless women and children from the emergency shelters)
Pierre Toussaint Dental Office (office that provides basic dental services for the poor)
Samaritan Outreach (outreach center that helps the poor and homeless with housing referrals, case management, hygienic services and support)
1997 House of Joseph II (permanent residence for homeless people living with AIDS)
1998 Immigration Law office opens Guardian Angel Child Care Center (childcare and early education provider for toddlers to kindergarteners)
Nazareth House Transitional Residence I (transitional residence for families)
House of Joseph Transitional Residence (transitional residence for single men and women who have left the emergency shelters)
1999 Nazareth House Transitional Residence II (transitional housing that helps families)
2001 Sacred Heart Village (permanent housing for seniors)
2002 Francis X. Norton Center (community youth and senior activity center)
Bethany House (permanent housing for women with disabilities or special needs)
2003 Il Bambino (affordable infant care program for the poor, working poor and homeless)
House of Joseph III (residence for adjudicated young men)
2006 Mary Mother of Hope House III Sacred Heart Transitional House (for single women)
2007 Maria Lorenza Longo House (long-term residence for single women, formerly House of Joseph III)
2010 Padre Pio House (long-term residence for men with disabilities)
2011 Josephine Bakhita House (a home for volunteers dedicated to serving a year of service to the ministry)
2013 Bethany House II (expansion of Bethany House I, a long-term housing facility for women with disabilities)
Planning Stages Sacred Heart Village II (permanent housing for seniors on Wilmington’s East Side)