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The Saint Pio Foundation’s Honorary Advocates are outstanding individuals who are committed to support the vision and mission of the Saint Pio Foundation.
Former Secretary for Veteran Affairs and former US Ambassador to the Holy See
Jim Nicholson served as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs from 2005 to 2007. Prior to his tenure at the VA, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See for nearly four years. Pope John Paul II knighted him for his leadership on human rights issues. He was the chairman of the Federal Interagency Council on Homelessness. Jim was a director of New Community Development Corporation and Commissioner of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), both Presidential appointments.
Jim has led an active political life, which includes serving as chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1997-2001. He has worked on a number of political campaigns at every level, from county commissioner to U.S. President. As Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Jim set records for fundraising, and in 2000 presided over winning the Presidency and majorities in the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, state houses and state legislatures. In 1978, he established Nicholson Enterprises, Inc., a nationally recognized land development and home building company, in Colorado. He has been inducted into the National Housing Hall of Fame.
Jim served as a commissioner on the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission. He was a director of St. Mary Land and Exploration Company, a director of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Colorado, Inc., and chairman of the board of the Volunteers of America of Colorado. He serves as director of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc.; The Daniels Fund; Federated Funds; NewDay USA; and is a fellow of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
He is currently Senior Counsel at the law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, and his practice includes counseling clients in public policy, health care, state and federal regulatory law, international relations, real estate, oil and gas and alternative energy.
We are honored to welcome Hon. Jim Nicholson as Honorary Advocate of the Saint Pio Foundation. Hon. Nicholson received the Saint Pio Award on May 27, 2016, together with Actor Gary Sinise, and we are delighted to count on Hon. Nicholson support, as we bring the legacy of Padre Pio around the Country, by “bringing relief from suffering to those in need“, in the name of Saint Padre Pio.
Former U.S. Senator, two-time candidate for the Republican presidential nomination
Rick Santorum is a conservative committed to restoring the American dream for hardworking Americans. He has been a voice for the voiceless – standing up for those struggling in this economy, protecting life at every stage, and fighting to ensure that our nation is secure from those who wish to do us harm.
Rick and Karen, his wife of 26 years, are the parents of seven wonderful children: Elizabeth, John, Daniel, Sarah Maria, Peter, Patrick, and Isabella.
In 2012, Rick and Karen co-founded Patriot Voices, a grassroots and online community of Americans committed to finding ways to restore the American dream for hardworking families. Patriot Voices impacted a number of economic, social and national security issues by mobilizing its army of grassroots volunteers.
Rick Santorum was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2012 and 2016 and became known as a voice for conservatives who didn’t feel their voice was being represented. His grassroots approach to campaigning – including visiting every one of Iowa’s 99 counties and his stunning victory in the Iowa caucuses – catapulted him to frontrunner status where he ultimately won 11 states and nearly 4 million votes during the 2012 Republican primary process.
Rick served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995 and in the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2007 where he was known as one of the most successful government reformers in our history. Rick took on Washington’s powerful special interests from the moment he arrived in our nation’s Capitol in 1991. He was a member of the “Gang of Seven” that exposed the Congressional Banking and Congressional Post Office scandals. Rick was also an author and floor manager of the landmark Welfare Reform Act of 1996 that has empowered millions of Americans to leave the welfare rolls and enter the workforce. Rick Santorum wrote and championed legislation that outlawed the heinous procedure known as Partial Birth Abortion as well as the “Born Alive Infants Protection Act,” the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act,” and the “Combating Autism Act” because he believes each and every individual has value and the most vulnerable in our society need to be protected.
Rick fought to maintain fiscal sanity in Washington before it was in fashion, fighting for a balanced budget and a line item veto. He bravely proposed reforming entitlements, cutting spending, and even developed a “spendometer” that added up the cost of Democrat amendments to spending bills. This record made him one of the most conservative senators in Pennsylvania’s history.
Rick served eight years on the Senate Armed Services Committee where he led the fight before the attacks of September 11, 2001, to transform our military from a Cold War force to meet today’s threats. He was a leader on U.S.-Israeli relations, authoring both the “Syria Accountability Act” and the “Iran Freedom and Support Act” which he successfully fought to pass in spite of initial opposition by President Bush. Rick firmly believes that we cannot allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.
Rick and Karen are the co-authors of the New York Times bestseller Bella’s Gift: How One Little Girl Transformed Our Family and Inspired a Nation. Bella’s Gift chronicles the inspiring story of life with the Santorums’ special-needs youngest child. Bella was born with a condition called Trisomy 18, and she wasn’t expected to survive her first birthday. Beating all the odds, Bella turned 8 in May of 2016 and is a joyful and loving little girl. Bella’s miraculous life has only strengthened Rick and Karen’s belief in the dignity of each and every life.
Rick Santorum is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers It Takes a Family, American Patriots: Answering the Call to Freedom, and Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America that Works.
We are honored to welcome The Hon. Rick Santorum as Honorary Advocate of the Saint Pio Foundation. Rick Santorum, a former U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, two-time candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and current CNN commentator and contributor, is above all a man of faith. We are delighted to receive his support as we bring the legacy of Padre Pio around the Country by “bringing relief from suffering to those in need” in the name of Saint Padre Pio.
Treasurer of the State of Pennsylvania
The Hon. Joseph M. Torsella is a successful civic leader who brings integrity, energy, and vision to the office of Pennsylvania State Treasurer. Under Joseph’s guidance, the Treasury manages $100 billion in public funds and has pre-audit authority over every check the Commonwealth issues. He also sits on nearly twenty government boards dealing with issues ranging from infrastructure to pensions to higher education.
From 2011 to 2014, Joe was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for Management and Reform. He was the architect and chief public spokesperson for the Obama Administration’s U.N. reform plans released in 2012 and was the United States government’s lead fiscal watchdog at the U.N. from its $36 billion in annual budgets to its $41 billion pension fund to its $2 billion headquarters renovation project. During his tenure, the U.S. reversed a decade-long trend of unbridled growth in U.N. budgets, brought new transparency to the U.N. through webcasting of meetings and publication of U.N. audits, and won milestone reforms toward ending sexual exploitation and abuse of civilian populations by U.N. peacekeepers and ending the unfair exclusion of Israel in U.N. bodies. Torsella’s plainspoken style earned him praise from U.N. watchers and from publications ranging from Le Monde to the New York Post, and he was recognized for his successful use of social media and public diplomacy to promote U.S. policy. As a U.N. outsider, Joe spoke frankly and colorfully about the need for the U.N. to end “business as usual” and frequently reminded his U.N. colleagues that the “obligation to our taxpayers” is to “do more with less.”
Prior to his service as an U.N. Ambassador, Joe served as Chairman of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education. In that role, Joe opened the board’s workings to the public – holding board meetings outside of Harrisburg for the first time in decades – and led the board to set forth an agenda around high school reform, teacher quality, healthy and safe schools, and college affordability. The Board’s hearings and proposals on making higher education more affordable won national notice and sparked legislative action in Pennsylvania.
From 1997 to 2003, Joe was the founding President and CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, a non-profit museum and education center dedicated to explaining and celebrating American ideas and ideals. As the driving force behind the concept, construction, and opening of the $200 million facility on Independence Mall, Joe led the Constitution Center to international acclaim, financial stability, and an unparalleled institutional reputation. He returned to the Constitution Center for a second term as CEO from 2006 to 2009, persuading President George H. W. Bush to join the Center as its Chairman, and worked to establish the Center’s international program, which included democracy education work in Afghanistan. Joe was asked to lead the National Constitution Center by then-Mayor Rendell.
Between 1992 and 1993, Joe served as Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning in Philadelphia under Rendell. He helped devise initiatives that helped resolve a $1.25 billion cumulative deficit. The New York Times hailed this nationally-acclaimed financial recovery as “the most stunning turnaround” in American municipal history. In addition to his career in government, Joe has served in a variety of high profile civic posts. In 2005, he co-chaired the Greater Philadelphia bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. A former successful small business owner, he serves on several corporate boards, and he served as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Public Policy at Drexel University.
Raised in Berwick, PA, Joe graduated from Wyoming Seminary high school. After graduating with honors from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Economics and History, Joe studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He lives with his wife, Carolyn P. Short, in Flourtown, Pennsylvania; they have four children.
We are honored to welcome The Hon. Joseph Torsella as Honorary Advocate of the Saint Pio Foundation, and to receive his support as we bring the legacy of Padre Pio around the Country by “bringing relief from suffering to those in need” in the name of Saint Padre Pio.
Former Westchester County Executive, NY
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino was elected to office in 2009 and re-elected in 2013 with bipartisan support winning by a 13-point margin. During his first term in office, Astorino froze or cut the county tax levy four years in a row, reduced overall spending in the county by 4.4 percent, maintained the highest credit rating among counties in New York, attracted new businesses to the county, and helped create 30,000 new jobs.
In addition, Astorino has worked hard to preserve essential services by maintaining a sizable social safety net, improving ParaTrainsit for the disabled, establishing public-private partnerships, and expanding environmental and recycling initiatives. Astorino continues to lead Westchester in the right direction by sticking to what he calls the 3 P’s: protect taxpayers, preserve essential services and promote economic growth.
Astorino was first elected to public office at age 21, serving as a member of the Mount Pleasant Board of Education. During his tenure, he also served as the board’s vice president. He went on to serve for 12 years as a councilman on the Mount Pleasant Town Board, including six years as deputy supervisor. In 2003, he was elected to the Westchester County Board of Legislators. Before taking office as County Executive on Jan. 1, 2010, Astorino had a long career in the radio industry. He was the station manager and program director of The Catholic Channel on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio and hosted a weekly radio show from St. Patrick’s Cathedral with the archbishop of New York.
In 2001, he helped launch ESPN Radio in New York. He became the station’s senior producer, and was executive producer of “The Michael Kay Show.” He has also held a wide range of volunteer and civic positions.
He has served on the Westchester Business Council’s Government Action Committee, the Mount Pleasant Rotary, the North Castle Land Trust, and the Hudson Valley Greenway. He also served two terms as vice chairman of the Westchester County Board of Ethics.
Astorino earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications at Fordham University, where he also minored in Spanish and Political Science. In 2001, he studied in Barcelona, Spain, and received a Spanish Immersion Diploma from the Enforex School of International Studies.
The county executive is a lifelong resident of Westchester. He and his wife, Sheila, live in Hawthorne and are the parents of three young children: Sean, 10; Kiley Rose, 9; and Ashlin Grace, 4.
On June 17, 2014 Maestro Luciano Lamonarca (CEO of Saint Pio Foundation) met with Hon. Robert Astorino, Westchester County Executive (NY), in White Plains. Being a devoted Catholic man, Hon. Robert Astorino reinforced his continued support for the vision and initiatives of the Foundation, accepting the role as a Honorary Advocate of the Saint Pio Foundation.
Former Connecticut State Senator 24th District communities
State Senator Michael McLachlan (R-24) is serving his fifth term in the Connecticut State Senate.
He represents the 24th District communities of Danbury, Bethel, New Fairfield and Sherman. A Deputy Senate Republican Majority Leader, Senator McLachlan is Co-Chairman on the General Assembly’s Government Administration & Elections Committee. He also serves as Vice-Chairman on the Judiciary and the Labor & Public Relations committees and is a member of the Finance, Revenue & Bonding and the Executive & Legislative Nominations committees. He serves as Co-Chairman of the Finance Committee’s General Bonding Subcommittee.
Senator McLachlan has been an advocate for limited government, clean elections, and strict adherence to the state’s constitutional spending cap.He has focused on preventing border tolls in the greater Danbury area, and he has been a strong voice in favor of eliminating unfunded state mandates on cities and towns.
In 2013, the Connecticut Alliance of YMCAs awarded Sen. McLachlan with its Legislator of the Year award for his promotion of youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.
In 2012, on behalf of a constituent, Sen. McLachlan spearheaded a proposal that requires screening for heart defects on newborns. The measure was touted as a simple, non-invasive, and cost-effective step, which would save lives. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed the proposal into law.
Also in 2012, Senator McLachlan was named Co-Chair of the bipartisan Life Sciences Caucus, which promotes public policies supporting economic growth and scientific innovation in the state. The panel’s goal is to grow the state’s life science industries and attract young talent from across the country and the world to live and work in Connecticut.
Senator McLachlan was presented with the 2010 Children’s Champion award by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance. The Connecticut Police Chiefs’ Association also honored him in 2010 for his efforts to enhance law enforcement in Connecticut.
Senator McLachlan has spent years working closely with the Catholic Church in Connecticut. In 2016, he was named a member of the Elected Official Advisory Committee of the Saint Pio Foundation. In a 2010 ceremony at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, Archbishop Timothy Dolan made Senator McLachlan a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
In 2009, Senator McLachlan led the opposition to proposed legislation that threatened religious freedoms. The proposal would have reorganized the Catholic Church in Connecticut by removing bishops and pastors from management decisions. In 2005, Bishop William Lori presented Senator McLachlan with the Diocese of Bridgeport’s Saint Augustine Medal of Service Award for his work at Saint Peter Church where he serves as a parish trustee. He formerly served as chair of the Saint Peter School Advisory Board.
Prior to serving in the Senate, Senator McLachlan served as Chief of Staff for Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. Senator McLachlan began working for Mayor Boughton following the mayor’s election in 2001. As chief of staff, Senator McLachlan spearheaded efforts to provide housing for veterans. Senator McLachlan still serves on the Danbury Housing Partnership and chaired the Veteran’s Housing Committee that launched the Housing for Heroes program in 2008. The program provides shelter, transitional housing and a path to a permanent home.
Before transitioning to city government, Senator McLachlan had a successful career in financial services, including automotive fleet, mortgage banking, and small business lending. He was named Vice President at First Union National Bank where he was responsible for equipment leasing in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.
A Danbury native, Senator McLachlan has a long history of community service and involvement. In 1998, the Danbury Jaycees honored him with the Distinguished Service Award. Kiwanis International presented him the Distinguished President Award in 2001 following his term as leader of the Kiwanis Club of Danbury.
Senator McLachlan served as chairman of the 1995 Special Olympics World Games Host Town Committee that welcomed Team Lebanon to Danbury for ten days during the competition. A member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Senator McLachlan has volunteered for the annual Greater Danbury Irish Festival for many years. As a member of the Knights of Columbus, Senator McLachlan was active in the renovations of the John Cardinal Neuman Center at Western Connecticut State University, chaired the scholarship program and assisted fundraising efforts for Special Olympics and Danbury’s Catholic schools. He serves as a trustee of the Danbury Museum & Historical Society and is working on efforts to preserve historic buildings in Danbury.
Senator McLachlan also has a lengthy record of work for the Republican Party, working in local politics since the age of ten. He served as a volunteer on many campaigns including those of Congressman Ron Sarasin, Jack Thompson, Marty Rader, Governor Thomas Meskill, President Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, and Governor Jodi Rell.
A former chairman of the Danbury Republican Town Committee, campaign manager, and advisor to many Republican officials, Senator McLachlan has cultivated a reputation as a devoted public servant. The Danbury Republican Town Committee awarded Senator McLachlan the J. Thayer Bowman Service Award in 2000.
Senator McLachlan is a commercial Realtor with his own company – Hat City Real Estate, LLC. He and his wife Alesia live in Danbury.
Chaplain to United States House of Representatives
Fr. Pat Conroy, a Jesuit of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, was born in Everett, WA in 1950. When his parents divorced in 1958, he moved with his mother to Arlington, VA, where he lived until midway through his sophomore year in high school, and transferred to Snohomish (WA) high school where he graduated in 1968.
Fr. Conroy graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 1972, and attended Gonzaga University Law School for one year before entering the Jesuit Order in 1973. As a Jesuit scholastic (seminarian), Fr. Conroy earned an M.A. in Philosophy from Gonzaga University, a J.D. from St. Louis University, an M.Div. from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley (CA), and an STM from Regis College of the University of Toronto in Missiology.
Fr. Conroy was ordained a priest in 1983 in Seattle, WA.
During his years of training, Fr. Conroy did practice law for the Colville Confederated Tribes in Omak, WA, representing tribal members in state courts, he represented Salvadoran refugees for the Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Immigration Office in San Francisco while studying theology, and again worked for the Colville Tribes helping to develop the case for the Tribes’ treaty fishing rights in the mid 1980’s. He has not practiced law since 1986.
After ordination, Fr. Conroy served 4 villages on the Colville and Spokane Indian Reservations from 1984 to 1989. After a year of working for the national Jesuit Office of Social Ministries in Washington, D.C., he began a career of university chaplaincy, primarily directing student retreats at Georgetown University for 4 years, Seattle University for 3 years, and again at Georgetown for 6 ½ years.
Mid-year 2003 Fr. Conroy was transferred to Jesuit High School in Portland, OR, where he served as the superior of the Jesuit community for 3 years, and began a 7 ½ year stint teaching freshman theology and coaching the school’s Mighty JV II girls’ softball team. During his time in Portland, Fr. Conroy also served for 3 years as the Oregon Province’s Provincial Assistant for Formation, having responsibility over the young Jesuits of the Province training for the priesthood.
In May of 2011 Fr. Conroy was nominated as the 60th Chaplain to United States House of Representatives by Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), in consultation with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and was elected by the House and sworn in by the Speaker on May 25, 2011.
Fr. Conroy was a competitive runner in college and for a few years after, a recreational runner for many years, and continues to have an interest in remaining physically fit. He plays the guitar, and especially through years of retreat work has learned how to lead sing-a-longs, favoring classic rock and roll.
On July 9, 2014, Maestro Luciano Lamonarca, in his capacity as CEO of Saint Pio Foundation, met with Reverend Patrick J. Conroy, Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, in Washington DC. We are very delighted that Reverend Conroy accepted to support the vision and initiatives of the Foundation, becoming an Honorary Advocate of the Saint Pio Foundation.
Adviser Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN
Msgr. Hilary Franco was ordained a priest in Rome at the rather young the age of 22. He received a doctorate in Biblical Theology before the age of 24 from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. He attended Fordham University in New York, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Sociology. Later, he earned another degree in Canon Law at the Lateran University.
Msgr. Franco served in the Parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Dominic’s in the Bronx, and Assumption Church in Staten Island. From 1962, he was Assistant to Bishop Fulton. J. Sheen at the National Office of the Propagation of the faith in New York. He worked on the preparation of the conciliar documents for the Second Vatican Council and attended as “peritus”.
In 1967, he was called to serve in the Diplomatic Corps of the Vatican at the Apostolic Delegation in Washington D.C. The following year, he was named an official of the Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See in the Vatican. After two years, he was named Official of the Congregation for the Clergy and was in charge of the English desk for 24 years.
He was named Monsignor in 1971 and Prelate in 1981. He was pastor of St. Augustine’s Parish in Ossining, New York, until 2013.
He served as Judge of the Interdiocesan Ecclesiastical Tribunal and currently serves as adviser at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.
On November 25, 2015, Maestro Luciano Lamonarca met with Msgr. Hilary Franco, Advisor to the Holy See Mission to the United Nations. We thank Msgr. Franco for accepting to support the vision and initiatives of the Foundation, becoming an Honorary Advocate of the Saint Pio Foundation.
Pastor, Blessed Sacrament Church in Staten Island, NY
Msgr. Ferdinando D. Berardi is the current Pastor of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Staten Island, after serving for five years as a Superior of the Casa Santa Maria, a residence for English-speaking priests continuing graduate studies in Rome. Casa Santa Maria is part of Pontifical North American College.
Prior to his appointment in Rome, Msgr. Berardi was the pastor of the Holy Family parish in New Rochelle, NY.
Msgr. Berardi was ordained in 1977. He holds a master’s degree in liturgy from the University of Notre Dam,e and a licentiate in sacred theology from the Pontifical International Institute of St. Anselm, in Rome. He was named a monsignor in 1995.
He served as Director of the Archdiocesan Office for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith from 1993 to 2002.
We are so delighted to welcome aboard as a Honorary Advocate of the Saint Pio Foundation, Msgr. Ferdinando Berardi, Superior of Casa Santa Maria of the Pontifical North American College, in Rome, Italy.
Friend of Saint Padre Pio
Father Lauriola was born in 1937 in Monte Sant’Angelo, in the Puglia Region of Italy, and was ordained priest in 1953. He served as a missionary in Korea, from 1957 to 1964.
He had the honor of being an altar boy for Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, and to serve Mass with him, becoming Padre Pio’s friend.
Father Lauriola was appointed pastor of the Immaculate Conception Church, in San Francisco, upon his arrival, in 1969. He currently resides in the same parish, in San Francisco.
We are so delighted to welcome aboard as a Honorary Advocate of the Saint Pio Foundation, Father Guglielmo Lauriola of San Francisco, Padre Pio’s friend and spiritual son.
Executive Editor of ONE US Aleteia Correspondent
Deacon Greg Kandra is a Roman Catholic deacon serving the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. He serves currently as a US Aleteia Correspondent, and Executive Editor of ONE, the acclaimed magazine published by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA). In 2012, ONE received an unprecedented 21 awards from the Catholic Press Association, including First Place for General Excellence. He now serves as Multimedia Editor for CNEWA.
Prior to his work with CNEWA, Deacon Greg enjoyed a long career in broadcast journalism. He spent nearly three decades as a writer and producer for CBS News, where he contributed to “The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric,” “60 Minutes II,” “48 Hours,” (Emmy Award, Writers Guild of America Award) and “Sunday Morning.” He was co-writer for the acclaimed documentary “9/11,” hosted by Robert DeNiro. (Emmy Award, Christopher Award, Peabody Award, Writers Guild of America Award.) His radio essays were featured in the bestselling book “Deadlines and Datelines” by Dan Rather. He’s also a two-time winner of the Catholic Press Association Award.
Other places you may find him: AMERICA, U.S. CATHOLIC, CATHOLIC DIGEST, REALITY (Redemptorist Communications), THE BROOKLYN TABLET and GIVE US THIS DAY. He serves on the editorial advisory board for DEACON DIGEST and is a frequent contributor to the magazine. Deacon Greg is also featured in the three homily collections “Hungry and You Fed Me,” “Naked and You Clothed Me,” and “Sick and You Cared for Me” by Clear Faith Publishing. All sales of those books benefit charities in New Jersey.
Deacon Greg grew up in Maryland, but he and his wife today live in the beautiful borough of Queens, New York.
On January 03, 2015, Maestro Luciano Lamonarca met with Deacon Greg Kandra, Executive Editor of ONE, the acclaimed magazine published by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA). We are very delighted to welcome aboard Deacon Greg, who formally accepted to become a Honorary Advocate and to support the vision and initiatives of the Foundation.
Bringing Relief of Suffering to Those in Need