Former fund-raiser forged close relationships with Priests for Life donors


Priests for Life
February 11, 2019


We continue here our series highlighting the members of the Priests for Life Family who serve or have served on our staff and pastoral team.

Sal Manno might live in southern California but his accent will always reveal his Brooklyn roots.

The former fund-raiser for Priests for Life found his way to the ministry in 2008, when he and his wife were expecting their first child (they now have four).

“At the time I was working in a commission-only job and I felt it was time to get into a salaried position,” he says. “I knew a gentleman who was familiar with Priests for Life and he suggested I consider applying.”

A match was made.

“I had been around the pro-life movement for many years prior to working for Priests for Life, so it was somewhat of a charism for me and I felt it would be a beautiful move for my life,” he says. “The idea of focusing all my efforts on the pro-life movement seemed like a natural fit.”

As a fund-raiser, Sal’s duties included keeping in touch with existing donors to let them know about the projects Father Frank and the team were working on, and to ask them to keep supporting the mission.

“I would thank them for the generosity they continued to show us – many of them were monthly pledgers - and make myself available for follow-up questions about Fr. Pavone and the pastoral team. Finally, being a friend and prayer partner with the donors was a big part of my work as well. Many of the donors carried heavy crosses and they appreciated knowing that Fr. Pavone and our team were praying for them.”

Like some employees of Priests for Life, Sal was able to work from home. But in keeping with the priority that Priests for Life places on bringing staff members together, he would visit the main office several times a year, while utilizing Skype and GoToMeeting for more frequent interactions.

Sal recalls his experiences with co-workers as very positive.

“My supervisor, Frank Norris, was a very good man and he treated me very well,” he says. “In the early years of my work I also had a gentleman who was doing the same work as me, Israel Horn, and he was very generous with his time to mentor me and teach me about the work. On those times I had to call in for supplies and help I was blessed to have wonderful people in the office who truly made themselves available to my needs. They understood the materials I needed were time-sensitive.”

Sal also worked closely – from afar – with the pastoral team and Father Frank’s assistants.

“I want to recognize what wonderful people they are and how much easier they made my work when I had questions for them,” Sal says.

Sal has the utmost respect for Father Frank and Janet Morana.

“I consider Fr. Pavone to be a great man. I know we have had recent problems in our church with certain public figures and clergy men not being the same person in private as they portray themselves to be in public but that was never my experience of Fr. Pavone. When I first began calling the donors it was clear to me on how revered he was by the people I spoke with. As time went on and I got to know Fr. Pavone on a personal level I realized all the inspiring stories I heard about him were true and he is a man who both walked the walk and talked the talk.

“First and foremost I found him to be a hard worker and that in and of itself commanded respect from me because I knew how committed he was to the pro-life movement. He would not be out-worked by anyone in the pro-life movement.

“Secondly, he made himself available for me whenever I needed him. As an example, if he knew he was flying out to California for a meeting he made sure to be in touch so we could meet and talk in person about work. 

“Regarding Janet, because of the nature of my work, I had less interaction with her than I did Fr. Pavone but on those times we did speak she was very personable with me and showed great kindness to my family. In fact I remember one year how she took note of the small children I had and she mailed wrapped Christmas gifts for them. Additionally, on those occasions where a donor had a question specifically addressed for her, she was gracious to answer my needs.” 

Sal says his “greatest blessing” in working for Priests for Life was having an opportunity to listen to the donors’ stories.

“It was really incredible to hear some of the heavy burdens people carried in their life and some of the back story on personal conversions. I remember in particular a lady named Rita Maxwell who was one of the most generous souls I ever knew. She had people who had approached her with unwanted (sickly) children and even left a few on her doorstep and she always took care of them with her husband. She died a few years ago but my life was indelibly touched by her.

“In fact, working for Priests for Life over the course of 10 years several people I had become close to passed away. It was tough to see that happen because I developed a special love and admiration for them. To a man all of them were so incredibly pleased to have a priest like Fr. Pavone in their life and someone they could look to who was a dedicated clergyman for the pro-life movement.

“I always felt that there are several pro-life groups doing great work in this country but none served the particular need and niche within the Catholic pro-life world the way Priests for Life does and I was blessed to be a part of it for 10 beautiful years.”


Priests for Life PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
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