Welcome to another edition of “Life in the Fast Lane!”

I have been in the U.S. since April 28 and those days have flown by but they have been filled to overflowing with family and close friends and countless wonderful moments that will add delightful pages to my Book of Memories!

I flew to Chicago on the 28th, landed at 8:30 pm and spent the night with a very dear cousin in nearby Glenview. Early afternoon Friday I boarded a train for Milwaukee and was greeted by my niece Christie and the three boys – Cece was at a friend’s house. On our way home I caught up on family affairs and learned that the weekend schedule included several soccer matches, a baseball game, the First Communion Mass and an early birthday celebration for Cole on Sunday. It would be a busy, yet wonderful 48 hours!

Emory’s First Communion was Saturday afternoon at 5 pm at St. Monica’s, an extraordinarily wonderful, lively and active parish and school. From mid-morning that day to about an hour before Mass, there were some soccer matches but by 4:15 pm, everyone was dressed in their finery and on the way to church. Afterwards there was a big family dinner, and 14 of us spent the night at Christie and Bryan’s, including my sister-in-law Anne, and my two other nieces and their husbands – Katie and Dan and Julie and Jeff and their two little ones, Harry, 18 months and Danny, 2 months, whom I met for the first time. Lots of sharing of bedrooms and little ones in sleeping bags and it all worked out!



Harry and his new brother Danny-


Aunt Joan and Danny-


Aunt Joan and six of my 21 great nieces and nephews-


I returned to Chicago Sunday night for my early afternoon flight on Monday to New York, the Big Apple! That was the last day I saw sunshine but not the last day my heart was warmed by friends and exciting events and beautiful dinners and television and radio appearances and the big book-signing event at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Gift Store.

Three wonderful friends, Anthony and Jordan DeStefano and Janet Morana sent a car to the airport to pick me up Monday – a huge thrill, and I really felt special! I was driven to the Paulist Fathers residence, met by Fr. Eric Andrew, president of the Paulists an a good friend, who showed me my guest room and gave me the keys to the house. I was then driven to Cipriani’s, a lovely Italian restaurant (perhaps many of you know Cipriani’s from Venice and also Harry’s Bar in Venice) where we enjoyed a wonderful meal, great conversation and lots of laughs. The drive took me past a sun-splashed Central Park with its magnificent horse-drawn carriages, the horses resplendent in their plumed headdress, colorful blankets and the carriages bedecked with (mostly false) flowers.

Tuesday, two more special friends, Gary and Meredith Krupp, joined me in Yonkers at St. Joseph Seminary where I taped an hour-long program with Fr. Andrew Apostoli about my book, A Holy Year in Rome (I forgot to take a photo on the set!). Father and I had lunched together and looked over the notes for our show. I’ll let you know when that airs. The Krupps has sent a car to take me from Manhattan to Yonkers – they live on Long Island.

I’ve known the Krupps for years. We had always met in Rome, never their home turf of Long Island! After the show, we drove back to Manhattan, visited for a while and then decided to have a drink someplace near the Paulists. The place we chose turned out to be a terrific discovery and I’ve now broken bread several times at La Masseria dei Vini and it will be my go-to restaurant in the future (there is another one on 8th avenue). I highly recommend it to anyone reading this column (887 9th Street, between west 57th and 58th) – ask for Andrea or Francesco – it is truly Italian and the chef, Pino, is from Capri. Food is fantastic and the presentation is right of a Renaissance artist’s handbook.

Gary and Meredith had an early dinner but I held off as I had invited Fr. Eric to dinner later that night and he had suggested the neighborhood restaurant, Masseria dei Vini! I went back another time for dinner and today, a friend from HIRF, the foundation on whose board I sit, drove up from Philly to have lunch  – guess where we ate! Can you ever have too much superb Italian cuisine!

Wednesday was the big day – the book-signing event at St. Patrick Cathedral Gift Store!



Inside the cathedral – an illuminated TV screen



The gift shop –


I arrived a half hour before the scheduled time and Patrick Denczewski, who had arranged this event, took me to the cathedral to see all the signs that were posted and to walk me around the newly restored church. It is stunning! It is majestic and luminous with statues and altars and stained glass windows crafted by masters! (Photos another day)

We came back to the store and I was about to sit at the table provided for signing when a couple walked in the store and I nearly fell over – Gianni and Mary Crisfulli from Santa Susanna parish in Rome! I had no idea they were visiting New York and they only learned I was here because of the cathedral promos! It was an amazing reunion.



And the book signing was such fun – I could have stayed a lot longer! I met so many wonderful people – many who thanked me profusely for my work for EWTN, others who had already read the book before their Rome trip and wanted another signed copy, and yet others who are planning on going to Rome. Many bought the books as Mother’s Day gifts. I heard so many lovely stories, especially when I asked what name I should inscribe in the book….a favorite aunt, a mother turning 86, a couple about to leave for Italy, someone in the hospital who needed a good read – and so on.

Wednesday night was special as I was on SiriusXM radio for Paulist Fr. Dave Dwyer’s “Busted Halo” – a ton of fun for about 25 minutes. We’ve known each other a lot of years, and see each other occasionally in Rome. I told him I had a story that had never been told in public and he was overjoyed to have an exclusive. I’ll get the link to this program to you asap so you can hear that story! I forgot again to take a photo in studio!

My days have been enriched by daily Mass at the Paulist-run St. Paul the Apostle Church, just around the corner from the Paulist residence. Yesterday it was packed for Ascension Thursday. Today I arrived early for the 12:10 Mass and was able to participate in Benediction and the procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the tabernacle. Quite a number of people in the parish watch EWTN and know my work, read my blog, etc. and I was made to feel at home. Four of my books were sold in the gift store this morning.

That’s enough (perhaps too much!) of memory lane for today! I wish all of you a very special weekend and please know I will be praying for mothers, grandmothers, aunts, godmothers, etc, on Sunday.

God sit on your shoulder!