Interviews of Some of Our Elder SDBs: Bro. Joseph Tortorici, SDB

10 Jan 2019

In Service of God: Interviews of Some of Our Elder SDBs

Bro. Joseph Tortorici, SDB

By Jennifer Kennymore

Jen Kennymore served as a Salesian Lay Missioner at Mary Help of Christians in Tampa in 2014-2016. At that time she conducted a series of interviews with our elder Salesians at St. Philip the Apostle Residence, some of which we were able to publish in E-Service. Lili DeGrasse, executive assistant of Mary Help’s director, has forwarded one that wasn’t published in that series.

Bro. Joe and Lili DeGrasse at the celebration of Brother’s birthday in 2014. Courtesy of Lili DeGrasse

Brother Joe Tortorici made his first profession in 1957 when he was 19 years old. As of 2019, he has been a Salesian brother for over 61 years. He decided to become a Salesian after a Passionist priest encouraged him to go to the seminary in Newton, N.J., and check it out. When he was welcomed right away, he felt the Salesians were the right fit. He believes it “had to be providential” that he found the Salesians, and to this day feels like he is right where he belongs.

Two of his favorite scripture verses are Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” and Genesis 50:20, “Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve this present end, the survival of many people.”

During his time as a Salesian he served as the community baker at Don Bosco Seminary in Newton for 21 years, as a telephone receptionist at Don Bosco Tech in Boston for 9 years, as an organist and telephone receptionist at St. Anthony Parish in Elizabeth, N.J., for 9 years, as a support staff member at Archbishop Shaw High School in Marrero, La., and an organist at St. John Bosco Parish in Harvey, La., for 21 years. He has been at St. Philip the Apostle Residence since July of 2013.

Some of Bro. Joe’s favorite things to do include playing music and participating in ham radio. He has done ham or amateur radio in some capacity for almost 50 years! He did international mission radio for about 30 years, helping missionary religious and laity reach loved ones around the world. He continues to play the keyboard for daily Mass and prayers and is known for singing some Frank Sinatra every now and then around the residence – Sinatra is his favorite song stylist.