When a trusted friend conned Msgr. Dino Lorenzetti out of his life savings, the elderly priest decided to turn his pain into a lesson on caution and forgiveness.
In "The Agony of Betrayal," by Msgr. Dino Lorenzetti and Barbara Stoyell-Mulholland," Msgr. Lorenzetti tells how, over an 11-year period, he befriended a down-and-out man who was always ready to accept a handout for supposed medical and legal expenses. The con artist played on the priest's sympathies and made him hand over his life savings. After realizing what had happened, Msgr. Lorenzetti realized he was just one more person who had been lied to in his former friend's life.
"When I got all through blaming myself, I said, 'Look at all these people who've been divorced. They all believed in that person getting married, and yet they got divorced. All these business people who also have been scammed.' As I was pondering on that fact, I believe that everyone, in one way or another, has been deceived through a lie," Msgr. Lorenzetti said.
Rather than hiding his embarrassment, he decided he would share it and try to help others who have faced betrayal in some form.
"Maybe I could comfort someone else who had been deceived, and know that there is a remedy for it. In the secular world, suffering pain is wasteful and not worth anything. It's foolish in a way. But in the faith, suffering can be redemptive. It can be unified to the suffering of Jesus Christ, where He Himself had been betrayed. That was part of the redemptive action that we can be part of."
With those thoughts in his mind, he got to his word processor and typed out the beginning of his book.
Along with Msgr. Lorenzetti's story, co-author Stoyell-Mulholland added vignettes, composites of stories from people she knew, to tell of betrayal within the family, in politics, and in love. Each story is followed by an examination of that situation and why it is an act of betrayal.
Stoyell-Mulholland knew Msgr. Lorenzetti through her mother, a former parishioner. During one visit, Msgr. Lorenzetti told her his story, which he had been pondering for a year or two. It was on his heart to get that message out.
"He didn't know how to do that, so I told him I could help him with that. He had already written a bit about it. I encouraged him to continue writing," she said.
Stoyell-Mulholland offered to edit it and provide the vignettes.
"I thought of this as more of a personal project for him, originally. He wanted that message on his heart to get out, and I was going to help him with that. As more people read it, they said, 'This is great. You need to get it out more, because we think people could really hear this message,'" she said. "He began to understand his life's work."
"He was diocesan director of the Family Life Office for 20 years and a pastor for 27 years. He dealt with these issues all the time, but he said he never personally experienced it. He has such a different view of it now. He feels like this was a gift God gave him. He didn't see that at the time because it was so painful, and so humiliating and so shameful how he felt, but it was a grace. Now that he has experienced it himself, he can speak from a position of more credibility."
The book is self-published through lulu.com. All profits will go to Catholic Charities of Buffalo. The book has a two-pronged approach to helping people: first, the stories help people deal with their emotional pain; second, proceeds help the needy.
"The reason we chose Catholic Charities is because they do so much with healing wounds, often wounds of betrayal."
Msgr. Lorenzetti found putting his thoughts clearly on paper to be beneficial and therapeutic.
"Once I got through writing it, I was able to get it out of my system and do a lot of thinking and reflection," he said. "I didn't have to take any medication. I didn't have to go to a psychiatrist or counseling service."
At the age of 94, this is Msgr. Lorenzetti's first book, but he is working on a second already.
"I want to reflect back on the Lord's kindness and mercy, the times he spared my life so that I could live this long, especially during (World War II, where I served in Africa and Italy as part of the U.S. Air Corps)."