November 2014 News to Use | Attorney Richard A. Pignatillo
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November 2014 Newsletter

October 30, 2014

Read the print issue of the November 2014 News to Use Newsletter»

This publication is intended to educate the general public and is for information purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. Prior to acting on any information contained here, you should seek and retain competent counsel. The information in this newsletter may be freely copied and distributed as long as the newsletter print edition or text edition is copied in its entirety.



News to Use
November 2014 Edition


Just Phil

In our family, we say it all the time. It's a line in the 1975 movie Jaws, when Roy Schneider's character Chief Brody finally gets his first good look at the shark. He stumbles backwards into the cabin of the boat, and says to the Captain, "You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat."

Thanksgiving is perhaps my favorite of all the holidays. Lots of family, friends and food. And none of the pressure to buy the perfect gift. The only way Thanksgiving can improve is if we can do it on vacation. When the crowds head south, we go north. When heading north is popular, we head south. Deals can be found. And that is how we found ourselves, my parents, my brothers and their wives, and various in-laws at the beach for Thanksgiving one year. 

When my wife put in the vacation time request from work, there was something in the way her boss asked about her plans. She stopped, looked at him, and said, "Do you want to go with us?" He said he would check with his wife. When I got home from work that night, my wife looked at me. My coat still on. Briefcase still in my hand. Something in her look made me say, "What?"

Father Phil Pritt"We're gonna need a bigger boat," she said. And then she said, "I am calling Father Phil to see what he is doing for Thanksgiving." And just like that, by the next morning, we added three more to our plans.

Father Phil Pritt has always been my "go to" guy. When I proposed, I think he was my second call. We did our pre-marriage counseling with him and my wife grew close to him as well. He performed our marriage ceremony at St. Columbkille with Father Redecky and my father-in-law's minister on the altar. with three clergy, I figured I had all the bases covered. When our sons were born, he was on deck to perform the baptisms.

So the plans were made. Some would travel by air. Most by car. The car riders were departing from a mostly central location. Times were staggered as to who would drive in the dark and who preferred more frequent stops, and the group was on their way. My brother, who has never feared anything, prefers to drive all night. He left with some family members at midnight. My wife is a morning person so she said she would drive first and started us out at 3:00 am. My parents were leaving at 6:00 am and driving less than a mile where the first order of business would be breakfast at Bob Evans. They were on their own. 

As we left, Father Phil climbed in the backseat where he would start the vacation with more sleep. And one request. For this week, while we are on vacation together, he is not Father Phil, he is not Father Pritt, he is just Phil. This was his only request. And we did our best to honor it, but old habits die hard.

 As the sun began to rise, I began to wake. My wife was gripping the steering wheel, peering ahead. I asked her how she was doing. She began to tell me a story that was fist tale without a fish if I ever heard one. About an hour outside of Cleveland she said she had hit heavy snow and limited visibility. There were long stretches she didn't know if she was on the road. But she managed to come up on a semi truck. She locked onto his taillights and stayed there. She said it was the worst thing she ever drove through.

We arrived in one car after another later that day. At a light supper that evening, my brother said, did you drive through that storm? My wife said yes, it was terrible. He said he had never driven through anything like that before. He said it got so bad, he slowed down to 20 mph. He finally pulled over for a while until it got light. He asked my wife, "did you slow down?" She said, "I thought about it".

Now the risk in taking a trip to the beach in the winter is the weather can be less than ideal and that's what greeted us. Fifty mile per hour wind gusts? We went bike riding along the beach. Torrential rain? We cut holes in plastic trash bags and headed out to shop. This was a group that was up for anything and a lousy forecast wasn't going to ruin our fun. We roamed the nearly deserted resort town in a pack. We piled into cars and visited museums and book stores. We took tours. Arriving in town, we made an impact piling in and out of cars like clowns in the circus. 

We were cold, we were wet and we were often hungry. We ate out, we cooked in, and we read books. Lots of them. When one was done, we passed it around. And then there was the Scrabble board. They set it up the first day, and that's where it stayed. Games would appear to go all night. The people around that game board were there when I went to sleep and still there in the morning when I found them. 

It sounds like the start of a joke. Did you hear the one about the Priest, the Scholar, and the Doctor playing Scrabble? Well that's what we were up against. My sister-in-law's mother, a physician, plunked down another one letter word with an extraordinary amount of points in all directions. Finally, people jumped away from the board discouraged and defeated. If you didn't know better, it looked like an order to abandon ship had been sounded.

Father Phil has a great spirit of adventure, especially when dining out. The most outrageous item on the menu, the one the wait staff can't pronounce, or if the word "fusion" is in the title, he's going to order it. While he claims ice cream as his weakness, his stomach must be cast iron.

Try as we might, calling him just Phil wasn't working. As we sat at a long table in a restaurant one night, my parents at one end and Father Phil at another, my mother said, "oh Father-,uh, Just Phil...Just Phil? What did you order?" And so it was "Just Phil" all week.

After almost a week of fun and fellowship, we began to head back to Cleveland. Runs to the airport were made for those flying home. Where introductions, handshakes and trying to remember names started the trip, it ended with hugs and sadness having it end all too soon.

Six hours into our journey home, my wife was pulled over for speeding. In her defense, we were traveling downhill. As she began to pull over, I told her, "If you get a ticket, I am not coming back here to represent you."

The State Trooper listened to her explanation - Father Phil needed to use the restroom. And just like that, he wasn't Just Phil any more. And he wasn't awake to witness this either. The officer let her go with a warning. As she merged back into traffic, she turned to me and said, "What do you mean you won't come back and represent me?" it was a long, quiet drive home.

Father Phil retired recently. Well, he actually retired some time ago. But his definition and mine are different. He continues to say Mass every Sunday, but he doesn't attend any meetings or read any memos. He says it is perfect. Over the years, he said how he has been addressed has changed. When he was first ordained, it was Father Pritt. Later it was Father Phil. In the 1970's it was Phil. now he says it should be Father Just Phil-In, or Father for Old Retired Guy.

In the almost 40 years Father Phil has been in my life, he has been many things to me and my family. he has been both Father and Friend. Counselor and Confidant. Scrabble Adversary and Advisor. But the one thing he has never been. The one thing he could never be to me, is Just Phil.

Richard A. Pignatiello's signature

The Metanoia Project

Homeless living outsideFather Phil Pritt's 80th birthday party began with a toast and call for a speech. And when handed the microphone, he turned the spotlight away from himself and over to Jim Schlecht a Metanoia Project volunteer. Father Phil had only agreed to a party if instead of gifts, donations could be made to the Metanoia Project.

Just over seven years ago, a group of  community activists met with the Cleveland Police Department District Commander at his request. The purpose of the meeting was to generate ideas on how to help the growing population of shelter resistant homeless. And from that meeting was born the Metanoia Project ( Metanoia is a Greek word, and the Metanoia Project is a "reversal in thinking" on how we care for the "least of these" in our community.

Jim Schlecht was in seventh grade at St. Williams School (now Saints Roberts & Williams) when Father Phil asked Jim to think about becoming a priest. Jim's plans at that time included a move to New York City and a career as a sportswriter. Father Phil thought he saw something in Jim, a servant's heart. And Jim thinks Father Phil asked all the seventh graders to consider a calling.

There is a segment of the homeless population that traditional shelters cannot reach for a variety of reasons. And while those shelters are doing good work, Metanoia is truly the last safety net for them.

The experienced, mostly volunteer staff whose professional backgrounds include over 80 years of community service experience, are aware of the barriers and work to meet that population's needs. The team works during the week in their paid occupations including at St. Herman's and the Care Alliance where relationships are started and trust begins to build.

At Metanoia those relationships are furthered and that is where the real healing can begin. The Metanoia Project Hospitality Center is open mid-November to mid-April on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am. The Hospitality Center provides a warm place to stay, food to eat, and warm clothes are available. The clothing items are all donated and organized by the two volunteers who organize the clothes at the West Side Catholic Center. And when those basics are covered, on Fridays medical care is provided by a medical team from Metro. On Sunday, a resource clinic is run to help secure temporary and permanent housing.

A place to stay, food to eat, clothes to wear and access to medical services. But that is only the beginning of what they are accomplishing. A six week Courage to Change program is held where skills are taught to find a keep a job, and to remove the barriers from a cycle of homelessness are all available onsite at Metanoia.

Volunteer supporters for the Metanoia ProjectIn the past, each night the hospitality center was open, fifty guests were seen. During last year's brutal Cleveland winter weather, they opened up additional nights on an emergency basis as an emergency shelter. They now average 85 guests each evening they are open.

The needs are great including for men's winter items - coats, shoes, boots, gloves, and hats. But there are successes. Each season, The Metanoia Project moves 10 to 12 people out of the cycle of homelessness and into permanent housing.

How can you help?

$5 the cost of an all day bus pass provided to get guests to medical treatment or a job
$5 for laundry detergent so that each guest may have a clean blanket
$20 for coffee and other beverages for the guests
$40 for a cot which is new this year and will be used all year
$600 the cost to open for one night and provide food, shelter and services

You can also forward a check made payable to:
The Metanoia Project
PO Box 93453, Cleveland, Ohio 44101

Metanoia Project is a small non-profit 501C3 agency.

They will pick up supplies, clothing or other goods or they can be dropped off at our Hospitality Center (located at St. Malachi) any time they are open.

Pie chart showing where donations to the Metanoia Project will be usedDrop off donations at my office at 7543 Broadview Road, Suite 2 in Seven Hills and I will make sure they get there.

The team at the Metanoia Project believes so strongly in what they do and they want to share it with you. Volunteer speakers are available to come to your group, school or event. They would love to come out and talk to you any time of the year.

While Father Phil said he was unsuccessful in persuading jim to join the priesthood, he also said that while Jim might not wear the collar, there is no doubt that Jim and the Metanoia Project are doing the Lord's work.

The Metanoia Project | 2459 Washington Avenue Cleveland, OH 44113
For more information, please call 216 351-7464

Richard A. Pignatiello's signature

Richard and Raymond PignatielloIn this season of Thanksgiving, we give thanks to you, our family, friends and neighbors for your support and your friendship. And we wish for you and your family all the blessings this season has to offer.

The Pignatiello's
Richard & Ellen
Richard & Raymond


This publication is intended to educate the general public and is for information purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. Prior to acting on any information contained here, you should seek and retain competent counsel. The information in this newsletter may be freely copied and distributed as long as the newsletter print edition or text edition is copied in its entirety.

Contact Attorney Richard A. Pignatiello Today

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