American Pastor in Rome Author:James F. Cunningham During a reception for President Kennedy in Rome, the President of Italy pointed across the room to a priest and said to Mr. Kennedy: "I go to his church to Mass. I say my prayers better there. His church is always orderly and quiet." — The priest was Father Cunningham. His church was Santa Susanna and it was, and still is, the "American" chu... more »rch in Rome. Being saluted by Presidents and blessed by Popes are only a few of the things that have marked the career of this American pastor in Rome. For a former registered pharmacist from the State of Connecticut whose ambition in early life was, some day, to own a drugstore, he had come a long way from home. This is the colorful and unusual story of how Father Cunningham came to Rome and what happened when he got there.
Father Cunningham spent his first twenty-five years in the priesthood as a pastor and missionary in various parts of the U.S. and as a Navy chaplain during World War II. He was in the thick of the action in the South Pacific on the U.S.S. South Dakota for three years, and was awarded the Bronze Star ("for ducking," he says) and the Purple Heart ("for not ducking fast enough").
Then, after serving for six years as Superior General of the Paulist Fathers, he was designated as pastor of Santa Susanna's American Church in Rome, a position he held for twelve years. There Father Cunningham became acquainted with just about every important American personality who came to Rome, from Presidents to actors and actresses, politicians and businessmen, and writers and artists. His book is filled with anecdotes--some humorous, some sad--about the famous and the unknown people he was called upon to assist in all kinds of ways, from getting tickets to papal audiences to arranging adoptions for illegitimate babies. Now pastor of Old Saint Mary's Church in Chicago, Father Cunningham reflects, in his autobiography, on a fascinating career. It is the story of a full and useful life and woven into it are many delightful and shrewd observations on those ever-intriguing subjects--Rome and the Romans.« less