Community is essential in hardship

By Brandon Desiderio
March 20, 2013

We’re all called to community. When we’re growing up, that community is family – time spent with our brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and grandparents. Our parents pave the way for the importance of family, of togetherness, within our lives. And when we begin school, this concept of community expands to include friends, teachers and mentors; from coaches to our favorite authors and fictional characters, we relish what become our first relationships, and we begin to explore what they mean to us.

Throughout history, humans have always lived in community with one another. We’ve cared for each other as neighbors and relatives. Even the biblical command of welcoming the stranger, which is at the core of our country’s identity, has stood as testament to the power of community: as one, we’re better; as a melting pot of individuals who come together even in the face of adversity, we stand united.

Eric Bascelli, Cabrini’s mechanical shop foreman for the facilities department, has a story that exemplifies our critical need for community. At age 28, with an 18-month-old daughter and a fiancée, Bascelli was diagnosed with stage-three esophageal cancer in late 2012 around the holidays. Even as he faced this diagnosis, however, he stayed strong. As “Team Bascelli” explains – the name used by friends and family members who have come together, who have called attention to Bascelli’s battle and helped fundraise his treatments – Bascelli has talked positively about his life after cancer since almost immediately after receiving the diagnosis, instead of focusing on the doom and gloom of his situation.

The beauty of Bascelli’s story is not just found in his personal resilience, however: the true beauty is the compassion of those within his life, who have donated over $22,000 for his treatments, and who have truly exemplified this call to greater community, to unity under one banner, under one cause.

Team Bascelli has a saying that affirms his ‘WILL’ to live:

“Eric WILL beat this,

He WILL live to raise his daughter,

He WILL see his wedding day and spend many years to come with his future bride,

And He WILL inspire others in the process and help raise awareness in the fight against cancer.”

There’s something to be said of the community support of Bascelli through his battle. Support is an often overlooked and underappreciated aspect of any struggle.

As many Cabrini students have seen by studying in solidarity with Norristown’s Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center, or by participating in Campus Ministry’s outreach in inner city Philadelphia to feed its homeless residents, it’s clear that many vulnerable communities exist in our world which lack the kind of support that Bascelli himself has received.

Sometimes all it takes is a willingness to participate in a genuine dialogue, and offering up a friendly face and a shoulder to lean on – that in itself is a luxury that these communities often lack.

It’s something that we should never take for granted, our sense of community and unity. Sometimes it takes a tragic turn for us to realize that, regardless of our own misgivings, we don’t have it as bad as we think. In the midst of struggle, we, like Bascelli, must remember our own ‘WILL’ to live.

It’s easy to overlook support that may very well be right in front of our eyes, and to think that we suffer alone, in silence, without anyone to share our burdens.

But more often than not, we’re mistaken; more often than not, people, like Team Bascelli, are compelled to do as much as they can to help; more often than not, people, like those who assist the poor and vulnerable, are looking out for others’ best interests.

More often than not, our community is richer than we can even see.

Brandon Desiderio

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