20 Questions with Br. Frank Presto, SCJ

Favorite color? What makes you happy? What are you good at? What is your greatest fear… “Twenty Questions” is a regular feature in which SCJs and those with whom they minister and collaborate share a bit about themselves in an informal Q&A. Participants are given the same list of questions and are invited to answer as many as they would like.

Br.  Frank Presto is provincial secretary of the US Province.


Q:  Where were you born and raised? Describe your family.  

BR. FRANK:   I was born in Pittsburgh, PA.  All of my grandparents emigrated from southern Italy and settled there to raise their families.  Victor and Rita were my parents.  Tina is my sister.  Dad worked for the USPS for 30+ years.  When he started after WWII, USPS (it had a different name then) was using trains to deliver long distance mail and he was part of the crew that loaded the postal cars.  Mom was a housewife trying to keep us fed, clothed and nurtured.  She started a part-time job when I left for high school, cleaning offices in a commercial park near our home.  Eventually that effort helped them pay off the mortgage early. Mom and Dad have both passed away and the house they made a home for 60 years has been sold.  Tina remains in the Pittsburgh area with her family.  She is married to Mark, is employed by the food services department of the local school district, and has two sons.  Mark continues his employment with a company that supplies auto glass.  Chris married Kelsie two years ago. Both are involved in broadcast journalism: Chris is a local television reporter and Kelsie is a news writer/editor.  Phil remains busy doing a number of different things.

Q: What is your favorite book or movie? 

BR. FRANK: My favorite movies are Metropolis (the original silent film version), 2001 A Space Odyssey, and It Happened One Night.  My favorite literary genre is Science Fiction/Alternative History/Fantasy.

Q:  If you could travel anywhere in the world post-pandemic – without concern about the expense – where would you go and why?

BR. FRANK:  I would like to spend more time in Italy.  It would be interesting to visit the areas where my four grandparents emigrated from.  My three visits (so far) to Italy have helped me understand this is more to our reality than the neighborhoods where we grew up or where we currently reside.

Q:  What are you good at? 

BR. FRANK: Being a nuisance most of the time.

QWhat is your favorite color? 

BR. FRANK:  Reddish brown.

Q:  Do you have any hobbies or pastimes? If so, what are they and how did you get interested in them? 

BR. FRANK:  Hobbies and pastimes have changed over the years.  Currently, I enjoy photography, especially flowers and scenery.  There is so much beauty and complexity in a picture of a blooming flower. I first developed a taste for photography when I was in Victorville with an old parallel lens camera that I wish I had kept.  Now I am using digital because it’s too difficult to find film and/or processing.   I am a train enthusiast (HO scale).  My paternal grandfather worked for the Penn Central Railroad.  The stories of his experience, and my dad’s, fascinated me as a child.  I started amassing track, locomotives, rail cars and accessories about 25 years ago.  My current diorama is my other universe and I’m represented throughout it. I enjoy reading.  I can lose all sense of time playing certain computer games – especially the Civilization series.  Sorry, I only play against the computer and not in multiplayer mode.  A recent addition to my hobbies is model building.  It started with the train set and has expanded to other forms now that I have run out of room for the diorama.  I used to enjoy cooking and baking but losing my senses of smell and taste robbed me of that pleasure.

Q:  What is your favorite food?

BR. FRANK:  Italian is what I enjoy the most.  I also enjoy Greek cuisine.

Q:  What is your least favorite chore?

BR. FRANK:  Cleaning my bathroom.

Q:  Who — living or deceased — do you most admire and why?

BR. FRANK:  I think it would have been interesting to have known Cleopatra, George Patton, Gandhi and Robert Kennedy.

Q:  What skill or talent would you like to have that you do not? Why? 

BR. FRANK:  I would love to know carpentry, basic and finish work.  There is something about taking pieces of wood and building with them, be it structures, cabinetry or furniture.  It’s a skill that uses all of your senses and requires a good deal of thought and precision.

Q:  As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

BR. FRANK:  I honestly don’t remember anything that stood out.  I do not recall having any long term, long range images.

Q:  What makes you happy? 

BR. FRANK:  Time with good friends and family. Enjoying a good meal.

Q:  What is your greatest fear? 

BR. FRANK:  My greatest fear is that we are losing the ability to listen to each other in the broader context of society in the USA.  From my vantage point, respect, politeness and courtesy have been abandoned.  I think we as individuals need these attributes to help us achieve commonality.

Q:  What trait or habit do you dislike in yourself? 

BR. FRANK:  I procrastinate and allow myself to be distracted rather easily.

Q:  List three words that describe you.  

BR. FRANK:  Cautiously optimistic.  Usually caring.

Q:  How did you come to know of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians) and what interested you about them? 

BR. FRANK:  When I was in the sixth grade at St. James School (West End, Pittsburgh), the homeroom teacher passed out literature from the SCJs about Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Lenox MA.  All of my male classmates immediately mailed the postcard for more info.  I sent mine the next day.  Fifty-three years later, I am still here.

Q:  Do you consider yourself a Dehonian? If so, what does that mean to you? 

BR. FRANK:  I strive to be Dehonian.  Some days it is easier than others.  For me, being Dehonian is integrating the core values in my life and living accordingly.  The Sacred Heart becomes, hopefully, the cornerstone of my being as I interact with others.  It’s a hard act to follow sometimes.  There is a line in the movie Metropolis that partially sums up the endeavor.  I probably will not quote it accurately but one of the key characters says “The Heart is the mediator between the Head and the Hands.”   That is the context I use when trying to integrate our charism into my life.

Q:  What changes, adaptations or insights do you expect to stay with you from the pandemic? In other words, how do you expect to be changed by COVID-19? 

BR. FRANK:  This is a hard question to address.  My perception is that there is a lack of political leadership and/or agreement at national and state levels throughout the USA.  It’s another opportunity for people to come together as individuals and work for a common good that we are missing as egocentric interests outweigh the need for cooperation. I think this virus and whatever develops in its aftermath will only increase the trends that separate us from each other.