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The pastor of a Presbyterian church in San Mateo, Florida, gives the sensational background that resulted in his entering the ministry. Son of a Sicilian and a Neapolitan, raised in close, immigrant neighborhoods of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, hampered by his eyesight, he grew up in the customs and superstitions practised by his mother and his Uncle Paul and, although refusing to become a part of Paul's many operations, never doubted that his uncle had sold his soul to the devil. On trial for a murder which his uncle had committed, he promised that if he was saved from the chair he would devote the rest of his life working for God and spent his prison years in keeping that promise -- and in establishing his innocence. His efforts on his own behalf resulted in a ten months' leave to help get evidence of Paul's murder ring, and the mass production of exhumed corpses proved his point. Ostracized as an informer, he went from Sing Sing to the prison in Auburn, found help in the Chaplain, worked with a Bible Institute, and, with his innocence declared, returned to enter a seminary, marry and -- return to prison when the verdict was reversed. Free again on a lifetime parole, he finished his course in the Bloomfield Seminary, built up the church which called him and, because of his wife's health, moved on to the church in Florida, where her death -- and their two children -- confirmed rather than denied his early promise. It's quite a story (newspapers and TV have caught up with it) and the 16 year path of spiritual direction is sometimes luridly lighted -- in and out of prison.

Pub Date: July 10th, 1961
Publisher: Dutton