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"Breaking Bread"

By Frank Vellaccio, Acting President 

It's no secret that I come from a family that loved food. I think there were three reasons for this. First, my family, particularly my Mom and Dad, thought of food as something good. It was what gave you sustenance-it was your energy source. They didn't look at it as some colored poison out to clog your arteries or make you ill in some mysterious way. No, food was good.

Second they saw food and eating as a real pleasure in life. Let's admit it: a lot of pleasures are a sin. But God gave us the pleasure of eating as a real perk of life. Imagine this scene: you go out to your little garden and pick the tomato that is just short of splitting its skin. You pick some fresh basil and the second you touch it that magnificent fragrance reaches your nose. You have this marvelous mix of deep red and green in your hand as you walk into a kitchen where you have been sautéing some imported olive oil to which you have added freshly crushed garlic. The whole kitchen is alive with the fragrance. You then dip the tomato in boiling water for just a few seconds, peel it, cut it with the basil and add it to the olive oil. You add oregano and freshly ground pepper and you let it simmer while, on another burner, you fry some Italian sausage with freshly cut peppers and onions. This is now a kitchen to die for. You absorb the smells while grating some imported Parmesan cheese. You then mix it all together-this wonderful combination of colors, textures and smells-and spoon it into a crusty Italian sub you have just taken out of the oven. The whole body is now tense in expectation and your mouth is begging to be involved. As the sub and juices touch your lips, they explode. And finally there is the sense of taste. 

Now, can anyone say that isn't sheer pleasure?

The third reason why we loved food, and perhaps the most important reason, is that food was an event around which the family gathered. These were the old days, but as kids, as we sat at the table and looked at the food, we saw it was what Dad had supplied and Mom, with love, had cooked. We gathered and talked. We shared our successes and failures. We shared our jokes. We talked about what had happened that day. We even argued. But through it all, the bonds of love grew tighter.

My most memorable moments as a child were the holidays. The whole Vellaccio clan gathered around a large table with a bounty that had taken all day to prepare. My Father sat at one end of that table, my Grandfather at the other. And if you looked, you could see a glisten in their eyes. I realize now it was probably the beginning of a tear as the light reflected off it. But the reflection of that tear yelled to us the Italian toast my Father often made. Ali Famiglia. To the family.

It is also no secret that I believe in family. Families are made when a sense of belonging and connection exists between people. At Holy Cross, we are bonded by our shared experience in the pursuit of truth and in our commitment to serve others. Our food is our love of learning. As is true of any family, no matter how estranged or distant you might become, you will always remain a part of the family. In addition you will always be able to find support and strength in the family and, perhaps most importantly, you will always be able to find love.

You are all a part of the Holy Cross family. And so I say on behalf of the faculty and administration of Holy Cross, we are proud to have you and we love you.

Ali Famiglia! 

This is an excerpt of an address that Acting President Vellaccio delivered to the President's Council last year. 

 

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