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Torrano returns home to his Catholic faith
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Richard Torrano is back in the faith after taking part in the Catholic Returning Home program at St. Anthony’s of Padua Church earlier this year. His wife, Diane, is converting, and is currently attending the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
Richard Torrano never gave up on his faith.
Nor did those close to him.
The Manteca resident was raised Catholic while growing up in the East Bay.
An alumni of St. Elizabeth High in Oakland, he had 12 years of parochial school under his belt and made all of his blessed sacraments.
But as an adult, Torrano never made time for church.
“I was a workaholic,” he confessed.
His main employment was that of a press man. Torrano, who recently celebrated 80th birthday, spent 29 years of working the print press at the Oakland Tribune, and another five at the San Francisco Chronicle.
Once, he got a call from work during Christmas and jumped at the opportunity for overtime.
“My wife was upset at me,” Torrano said on Friday.
Yet Diane Torrano stood by his side, with their marriage spanning 58 years and producing three sons — Steve, 54, David, 52, and Douglas, 44.
For Richard Torrano, providing for the family also meant having to supplement his income.
“I held three jobs at one time,” he recalled.
Besides the newspaper, Torrano worked at a parking lot at Oakland International Airport.
Still, he considered himself Catholic although not a practicing one. His wife was protestant in the Presbyterian church. However, their boys were raised Catholic.
Torrano did go to church for family functions such as weddings, Baptisms and First Holy Communions. But never Christmas and Easter.
The last time he attended Mass was in 1947.
“Pius XII was pope back then,” he recalled.
Services were still conducted in Latin.
While retired since 1989, Torrano stayed away from the church, in part, not knowing how to get his foot back in the door.
Enter the Catholics Returning Home program offered at St. Anthony’s of Padua, 505 E. North St.
Deacon Harvey Parolari runs the ministry of compassionate listening that enables participants to explore their Catholic identity.
Diane Torrano took notice of the program from the local newspaper, and brought the article to her husband’s attention.
And in February, Richard Torrano made it to the first of several such sessions.
“For many (in the program) it had been 20 or 30 years away from the church,” he remembered. “And when it was time for me to speak up, I said ‘Would you believe it’s been 60 years?’”
Torrano had finally come to terms with his faith.
“I never lost it,” he said. “But I’m getting closer to the end.”
Along the way, Diane made the decision to share in her husband’s faith. Not too long ago, she started attending the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes offered at St. Anthony’s better known as RCIA.   
She’s making plans to receive her blessed sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist during the special Easter Vigil service.
As for Richard Torrano, he was amazed at the nurturing process during his time in the Catholics Returning Home program.
He’s still adjusting to the Vatican II ways. After all, Torrano had a six-decade void in his faith.
Torrano, however, is a regular churchgoer, attending Mass regularly on Sundays not to mention the holy days of obligation.
His younger sister, Gloria, a devout Catholic, was thrilled about his recent return to the church.
“She told me that she had always prayed I would come back,” Torrano said. “She never gave up.”
In addition, he and his wife had their marriage blessed by the church during a special family celebration held April 25.
The Catholics Returning Home program will be starting up again in the coming months at St. Anthony’s.
For more information, call Deacon Harvey at (209) 599-6719 or the church at (209) 823-7197.