Part Three of a Five Part Series
One of Joe Zanotti’s first thoughts when he saw the tsunami-damaged Catholic Church in Banda Aceh, Indonesia was that if this church had been in America, it would have been torn down. But right away, the Pittsburgh native was told the Archbishop of Jakarta had ordered that the church be saved at all costs.
As an engineer, Joe Zanotti knew he’d been sent to Indonesia for a reason. He was working in Vietnam when his firm commissioned him to go to Banda Aceh to help victims of the 2004 tsunami. Joe Zanotti had already toured the most heavily damaged areas when he arrived at the Catholic Church, which had been built in the 1920s.
Upon first inspection, Pittsburgh’s Joe Zanotti couldn’t understand the historical significance of the place. It was not a very attractive church from what he could see, and the earthquake had caused visible severe damage.
Zanotti soon met Father Ferdenando. Judging him to be around 70 years of age, Joe Zanotti was amazed at the Father’s energy and enthusiasm. His primary focus, Pittsburgh native Joe Zanotti noticed, was on helping those in his parish rebuild all they had lost. Using his connections, Father Fernando had been able to bypass the governmental red tape to get things done.
Over a can of Coca-Cola while sitting in Father’s visiting room, Joe Zanotti and Father Fernando discussed the job at hand. “While a simple Coke seems like nothing, it was a really big gesture when you consider the scarcity of things in Banda Aceh,” Zanotti muses. “And it was a way for us to build trust. This Coca-Cola would become a daily event.”
As he spoke to the priest, Pittsburgh resident Joe Zanotti learned the Father’s first superior out of the monastary was Father Giofranco Zanotti, who had a brother who was also a priest. As they spoke, Zanotti learned both men were from a part of Italy where Joe Zanotti’s grandfather was from. Father Fernando thought it might be a sign. “The good Lord sent a very prominent engineer, Senior Zanotti, from the USA to save my church” exclaimed Father Ferdenando!
“If you fix my church,” Father Fernando told him, “I will say mass in your name for a week.” Being of the Catholic faith himself, Pittsburgh native Joe Zanotti saw this as “devine” pressure on him. With an offer like that, how could he NOT succeed?
Click here to continue reading >>