Remembering Father Pino Puglisi of Palermo

“I’ve been expecting you.” That’s what Father Pino Puglisi said to his assassins when they came to kill him in cold blood on his birthday September 15, 1993. When they confessed, his killers said he looked them in the eyes peacefully. They turned themselves in because they were haunted by his smile.

“Who kills a priest?” you ask? Psychotic mafiosi who were threatened by the joy and care he was bringing to young people in Brancaccio, probably Palermo’s most crime-ridden neighborhood at the time. He was disrupting business! That was 30 years ago. Things have changed a lot since 1993, thanks to the bravery of people like Father Puglisi who today is considered a martyr and has been beatified. His story inspires me not only on this commemorative day, but every day because he showed Palermitani (and all of us) that one man’s work can effect positive change. His seemingly normal parish work transformed into a movement against organized crime and corruption from which we are all benefiting today.

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