Interviews by Kathleen S. Carr '96
Changing his corner of the world:
Monsignor Michael W. Banach ’84
Monsignor Michael Banach ’84 is a permanent representative of the Holy See to the Organization of Cooperation and Security in Europe, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization—as well as permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations organizations in Vienna and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.
If that sounds like a lot of responsibility, it is. But Monsignor Banach is poised for the challenge. Following graduation from Holy Cross in May 1984, he prepared for the priesthood at the North American College and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome—his ordination took place on July 2, 1988, in Saint Paul’s Cathedral in Worcester. After a brief summer assignment at the cathedral, Monsignor Banach was sent to Rome to complete a licentiate in Canon Law; in July 1989, he returned to the Diocese of Worcester where he was assigned to Saint Anne’s Parish in Shrewsbury.
A little more than two years later, Bishop Timothy Harrington asked Monsignor Banach if he would be willing to serve in the diplomatic service of the Holy See; responding favorably to this request, he was assigned to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome, the school for diplomats of the Holy See. While there, he completed his Ph.D. in Canon Law.
Monsignor Banach has also spent time in Tanzania and Bolivia—as well as in Nigeria, where he had been the secretary of the apostolic nunciature; while there, he helped to prepare for a pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II.
On Jan. 22, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Monsignor Banach to his current posts as permanent representative and permanent observer of the Holy See; to fulfill these duties, he now resides in Vienna, Austria.
A philosophy major at Holy Cross, Monsignor Banach credits the professors in this department with fostering his growth as an undergraduate; “Professor Clyde Pax instilled in me that love of wonder, the beginning of all knowledge,” he says, “and Professor Hermann Cloeren showed me the enduring importance of the pre-Socratic philosophers and rigorous academic honesty.”
In addition, Monsignor Banach expresses gratitude for the assistance of his Italian professor, Rev. Lionel Honoré, S.J., who helped prepare him for his classes at the seminary in Rome—which were all taught in Italian.
The Study of Movement: Margaret Lanzetta ’79
When train stations are renovated in New York, the city fathers use the construction as an opportunity to infuse art. Area artists submit proposals and—if chosen—their art becomes a permanent installation in the station.
Margaret Lanzetta ’79, who was recently invited to participate in such a project, was one of 25 finalists. Her work will be on display in the New York MTA Norwood Station this summer.
“My work deals with cultural migration,” Lanzetta says. “I work with patterns—from textiles to decorative patterns from architecture, to patterns in industrial materials, like meshes and screening. The idea of pattern being a cultural signifier is inherent in my work.”
At the start of her art proposal, Lanzetta researched the history of the neighborhood in which her installation would be located. At the library, she discovered who had lived there when New York was first settled. She traced the Dutch settlers who came to the area in the 1600s, followed by the English and then groups of Jewish immigrants. More recently, the African American and Caribbean settlers arrived. The current neighborhood expands on this initial melting pot with residents of Indian and Dominican descent.
Using this diversity as her backdrop, Lanzetta created seven windscreens that measure 4 by 6 feet. She chose patterns for the screens that typified the patterns relevant to these early ethnic groups. The large flowers she uses are drawn from the Dutch—swirls represent African textiles—and her color palette gives her art a Caribbean or tropical feeling. The backgrounds start pale yellow; as the eye moves west they get bluer—a metaphor for the movement of the day, she says. Her designs are currently being fabricated by a stain glass artist in Minnesota and will be installed in the Norwood Station in July.
Lanzetta notes that she carefully chose Holy Cross for her undergraduate studies.
“If you go to art school you don’t necessarily learn how to write,” she says. “A liberal arts background helps you express yourself in written form, which is vital to being an artist.”
Lanzetta, who also studied classics at Holy Cross, points out that those classes have inspired the poetic references and the development of cultural and migration themes that she uses in her art today. And she adds that she is still in touch with the professors who motivated her.
“There’s a real humanity about the College that took me 20 years to appreciate,” Lanzetta says. “The way people treat each other … it’s not always like that in the real world, but it’s just a given at Holy Cross. And it’s inspiring.”
The Voice behind Obama: Jon Favreau ’03
You know you’re talking to a speechwriter when every word out of his mouth is quotable. That’s how the interview went with Jon Favreau. It is no wonder that U.S. Sen. Barack Obama tapped Favreau to be part of his campaign team. The two are equally engaging.
I asked Favreau how one embarks on a career in speechwriting, and he—like most alumni—credits the College with helping him launch his career.
“It all started because of Holy Cross,” he recalls. “I did the internship program in Washington, D.C., and I spent a semester in Sen. Kerry’s office during my junior year of college.”
Favreau worked closely with the communications director in the press department during his internship. Throughout his final year at Holy Cross, he kept “bugging” the director for a job in the campaign. The night before commencement, he received a phone call.
“I was hired as the press assistant,” he says, “which was great, because it was what I wanted to do—and because it was the night before graduation and I didn’t have another job lined up.”
In 2005, Favreau got the call from Kerry’s former press secretary who had left to serve as Obama’s campaign director.
In January 2005, Favreau sat down with Obama. He found the interaction easy.
“Obama asked me what I thought about speechwriting,” Favreau recalls.
“I told him that in his convention speech he recounted a story and that really struck me.”
Recognizing that the anecdote mirrored the American experience, he adds, “I thought, for once, a Democrat told a story about America, and that was important to me.”
Favreau also impressed Obama with the work he had done with the SPUD program while at Holy Cross.
“I told Obama how I had helped welfare recipients in Worcester,” he says, “and he told me about his community organizing in Chicago—and we connected. He’s such an easy, unassuming guy. He knows exactly who he is and what he stands for.”
These days, Favreau spends a lot of time on the phone with Obama to get his input.
“There is a lot of policy writing in these speeches, and Obama always works to put the poetry back, which is great,” he says.
Favreau also notes that he still talks to his political science professors at Holy Cross to get their input on those policy speeches.
When asked what his next steps are, Favreau immediately responds, “The White House, of course!”
“If we go to the White House, I’ll be there for a couple of years,” he says. “Beyond that, I will leave politics at some point and just write. You can get tired of politics, but I don’t know if you can get tired of writing.”
Kathleen S. Carr is a freelance writer based in Melrose, Mass. She can be reached at email@example.com.