“Did I Ever Thank You, Sister?”
by Sal Di Leo
Don’t be put off by the title, as I admit I was.
This little memoir isn’t another paean to a beloved nun, as I admit I thought it was. As much as so many of us owe a huge debt of gratitude to the women religious who taught us so much, most of those books end up being mushy, poorly written works not worth anyone’s time but the author’s.
Not so “Did I Ever Thank You, Sister?”
Self-published, it sat amidst the stacks of others that I’d put aside, and I cracked it open for some reason while trying to dust. I put it down finally more than 100 pages later.
Sal’s story has a memorable Sister, of course, Franciscan Sister Mary Paul Korman, but what it offers is a compelling insight into a life that had similarities to so many Catholics growing up yet an incredible difference as well.
Sister Paul, you see, was director of Guardian Angel Home, an orphanage outside Chicago.
Sal’s father walked out on his big Italian-American family when Sal was in the primary grades.
Hope springs eternal
Di Leo has a nice touch with the stories he shares about the orphanage and later his time at Boys Town in Omaha, NE. It’s easy, fast reading. His life takes all kinds of interesting turns.
Why he and his siblings found themselves in an orphanage, however, is really the heart of the book, and at the heart of Di Leo’s angst.
It’s a story of human and spiritual renewal that offers hope to anyone willing to put trust in God.
Football fans will find that former Minnesota Viking coach Bud Grant plays a role in Di Leo’s journey, too. It’s a literary trip worth taking. — bz