Name: Sam Maranto
Parish: Our Lady of Good Hope
Family: Wife of almost 38 years, Rebecca, and two grown children
Why You Want to Know Sam Maranto: Maranto's influence as church secretary affects everyone in the parish and, as the administrator of the church's food pantry, he affects many outside the parish. Maranto was born with cerebral palsy and is also legally blind. His pastor, Father Alphonse Gollapalli, said, "He overcomes his disability by being active and industrious. He does an excellent job as parish secretary. He keeps accounts and registers up-to-date. ... He is multi-talented and an enthusiastic Christian ... He sings well as a member of the choir. His skills in managing his computer have surpassed his vision limitations. Though the challenges of life for him are harder than any other person, yet he is an example of how one can overcome one's disability."
In his own words
Arkansas Catholic's theme this year is "Catholic Beyond Sunday." How do you remain committed as a Catholic beyond Sunday? As secretary for my parish, choir member and member of various planning committees, my involvement automatically extends beyond Sunday, but the thing that really anchors me in my faith is the love and support of my fellow parishioners. This community is the most welcoming, caring group of people I have ever been associated with.
Why do you like being Catholic? I like being Catholic because it brings me relationships with the wonderful people of my parish. Maybe that's not the expected theological answer. I might have said something about practicing the faith Jesus gave us, but I think people are far more important than doctrine.
How many years have you been church secretary? What are your duties? I began working with the previous secretary in December of 2007 and took over the job in May of 2008. I run a one-man office, so my duties include anything and everything: answering phone calls and correspondence, paying bills, keeping the books, reporting financial conditions to the parish and the diocese, dealing with workmen, repair people and so forth.
What do you like best about your job? I like being able to help others. And I like being productive and making a difference.
Because of physical limitations, were you ever discouraged and tempted to give up? You always seem happy and efficient. Like anyone, I have my down days and admittedly things have often not been easy. But I don't know how to give up — not because I'm so positive or special, but rather because there's no other game in town. This is the life God gave me, and my task is to do the best I can with what I've got. As to "happy" and "efficient," maybe you should ask my wife that question and give her a good laugh.
All of us are disabled in one way or another. What is the most important thing we need to remember in order to be victorious Christians? Well, you said it: "All of us have disabilities in one way or another." To me, that suggests that we do best when we focus on what we have, not what we lack. And it's good to step outside our own difficulties to help others ... That said, I'm no saint. I struggle every day to actualize that. Some days I do better than others ... To me, Christianity comes down to three things: love, don't judge and forgive. I don't think we ever get that entirely right, but all we can do is keep trying. Even when we try, there's no guarantee it will be easy, but that's the challenge.
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