Set the world on fire was the charge, order and mandate of Saint Ignatius of Loyola- you don’t have to be Catholic to love saints- they are mystical experts, spiritual healers, and extraordinary people who suffered, figured out the meaning of the suffering and then set about to heal the world in whatever ways they could- including and especially by making miracles.
It is in that transcendent spirit, that my cousin, Ignatius “Iggy” Farino lived. He died at the age of 86 on Monday July 19, 2021 in the feast month of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. I imagine, for those of you who study numerology, astrology and read the Tarot cards, this causes a shiver.
Iggy was married for 51 years to Elizabeth “Dolly” Barr Farino, who died in 2013. The last 8 years without her were the longest of his life- and he served two LONG tours of active duty in Korea in the 1950’s. He was a Boy Scout, marble champion, bass drum player for the Roseto Chieftans Drum and Bugle Corps, a Little League coach, a gas jockey and a splitter in a blouse mill. He lived a life that burst at the seams with creativity- he loved music- fixing an engine with his hands and playing games. He was a fabulous father and grandfather. There’s more to the story of Iggy Farino, and it has lots to do with where he grew up.
Iggy grew up down the street from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, where life-size plaster saints (Italian designed, poured and painted in Italy) are clustered in the alcoves and glorious stain glass windows throw fractured light upon them. If you don’t find peace in this church, you may not find it anywhere. Iggy and Dolly were members of the church, and it was here that he was laid to rest. Iggy died in his sleep, on the eve of the annual festival honoring Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Another shiver.
Iggy owned a gas station in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania across from Weona Park. There’s a carousel there, with horses made by the old masters. A good summer was when we rode the carousel every weekend. Generations of families have loved the carousel - my dad rode it as a boy, I did when I was a girl, and we took our daughter to ride it too. Iggy’s gas station was visible from the carousel, and we’d stop in after a visit to Weona Park. Iggy’s life was intertwined with the places of my childhood that mattered. He was a patriot, a working man, a union man, a tireless advocate for those who had less than he did, and a kind soul. He was funny and warm and was there for anyone that needed him. He had a sixth sense about people and knew the real deals from the faux. His Italian upbringing and all that meant to him is reflected in his three children, who are well raised, gracious and accomplished. He and Dolly threw one of my favorite weddings of all time- for their daughter Carmela. There were so many guests it required a fire hall. In his own way, like his patron saint, Iggy set the world on fire. But in the same way, he knew how to draw folks together, the fire was just a lure. It was the camaraderie that mattered- the plan in place. He died as he lived, and went back to God and Dolly almost quietly, without fanfare. But I know he made it to see the face of God, because that’s the kind of guy he was. Stealth, he would seek goodness in a quiet and simple way, like the man himself.