Although it is almost universally accepted all over Christianity, the idea of service seems to exist in one form or another in our faith. Throughout the four gospels, Jesus of Nazareth taught not only the importance of service but also how this very simple yet profound hallmark of our faith can result in positive changes via a ripple effect. Some denominations, such as the United Methodist Church, make Christian service a lifelong commitment and have made serving completely voluntary.
For some, service can expand into other realms of our lives beyond just being Christians; It could be defined as service to your country, your community, and above everything else, service to your family. We all have someone or had someone in our lives who have walked out their faith by serving others every day while at the same time passing on the values of our faith to the next generation of believers.
While it’s different for everyone, my Grandfather, Gino Francis Manacci, is this person in my life. He is a Korean War and Cold War veteran who served honorably and faithfully as an electrical technician in the United States Air Force. After retiring from his job of over forty years at U.S Steel, He and his faithful wife of almost seventy years, Edie, had raised six children who went on to prosperous lives. He is Grandfather to four successful grandchildren, and at the time of this article being written, Great-grandfather to a little baby boy. Because of my grandfather’s wisdom, each of his children and grandchildren was bestowed with a strong sense of servitude. The following is an interview I conducted with him one Sunday afternoon on the subject of Christian service.
Michael J. Manacci: MJM
Gino F. Manacci: GFM
MJM: Given that your father was a World War One veteran, did his service influence you in your decision to volunteer for The U.S. Air Force?
GFM: Absolutely! I felt called to serve my country just as much as he did when he immigrated through the U.S. Army. It’s no surprise that I felt that way, though. Many young men in my generation, having lived through the Second World War, felt the urge to do their part for their country.
MJM: It goes without saying that in the U.S. Military, that people of all races, denominations, and creeds work together symbiotically to complete their missions. Did you ever experience firsthand any persecution for being Catholic within the ranks of your unit?
GFM: Not really. When it comes to religion, there isn’t any real partiality to one faith or another. I worked with Lutherans, Jews, Baptists, etc. Believe it or not, it wasn’t the guys from my unit that had a problem with my faith but the townspeople where I was stationed in Alabama that gave me the most grief.
MJM: Who are some people of the Chrisitan faith that have inspired you in your walk with Christ?
GFM: St. Peter, The blessed Mother, St. Paul of Tarsus, Pope John Paul II, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the four writers of the gospels, Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
MJM: How did you, as a father, instill Christian values into your children while raising them?
GFM: The Manacci Family puts great emphasis on service. Your Uncles Chris and Dominic were altar boys when they were kids. We have always given back to our community and our church. Serving, in this sense, gives us the opportunity to show through our actions, not just simply professing our faith, the love of Christ. It’s even reflected in the lives of my children as adults. They all went on to prosperous lives.
MJM: When you first became involved with the IAV, did you feel called to serve the community of Lorain through this organization?
GFM: For the most part, yes. But the strange thing is I joined for the camaraderie and the fellowship, even before I retired. It’s just that after I retired, I found the time to truly become committed to both my post and their charitable work for veterans in our community. I was post commander for six years, had the city erect Italian-American War Memorials in our parks, and was elected Lorain’s veteran of the year.
MJM: What advice would you give young disciples of Christ worldwide?
GFM: My answer to that is simple; it is the last recorded words of the blessed mother in the gospel. “Do what my son tells you.” (John 2:5)