Reflections on Monsignor Frank Chiodo

By Tom Quiner

Msgr. Frank Chiodo

Monsignor Frank Chiodo, who died on Thanksgiving, was a good friend of Pulse Life Advocates. He served on our board for one year. In 2020, he worked with us on developing the 4-part Holy Family Project. The idea behind the project was simple: the incidence of abortion plummets in holy families.

Monsignor said the project was anointed by the Lord in a special way. As we discussed ways to frame the program, he came up with the foundational theme, upon which we built four episodes:

“The Holy Family is the ‘Soul’ solution for a wounded world”

My wife, Karen, and I sat with him at Frederichs Coffee Shop as he nursed his shot of espresso and brainstormed with us on the project. Pulse executive director, Maggie DeWitte joined us in follow up meetings to fine tune content.

Monsignor thought a good way to launch the program was a first episode on Pope Paul VI’s watershed encyclical, Humanae Vitae. The late pontiff predicted with eerie precision the consequences of the contraception culture on the generations to come.

Monsignor Chiodo suggested we could build on that with three complementary follow-up episodes:

EPISODE TWO: Fruitful Mothers
EPISODE THREE: Fearless Children
EPISODE FOUR: Faithful Fathers

The Holy Family’s format

Each episode begins with a ‘talk,’ in essence a homily by Msgr. Chiodo on each topic. Each concludes with a conversation with panelists Maggie DeWitte, Pulse executive director, Joe Stopulos, host of Man Up on Iowa Catholic Radio, and myself (board president of Pulse).

Special guests joined us in various episodes, including Bishop William Joensen; EWTN talk show host, Dr. Ray Guarendi; and Bill Donaghy of the Theology of the Body Institute.

You can view episodes at the Pulse website. Each one is front-loaded with Msgr. Chiodo’s homily, which are really worth viewing. We even included one short clip of one his talks in our new project, “How to Raise Pro-Life Children.” (Check it out in episode two.)

The project strained Monsignor. As the year progressed, he became increasingly anxious about the endeavor, and felt that he was under spiritual attack. Through prayer, he persevered and completed the four talks in October of 2020.

The following month, he spoke at the Pulse Christmas Gala in one of his final talks from the podium. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with cancer which eventually claimed his life.

Profound influence

Msgr. Chiodo had a profound influence on me personally. I got to know him well when he became pastor at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in the early 2000s. His reverence for the Mass and his passion for the Eucharist drew me deeper into my Catholic faith. I had converted to Catholicism some decades earlier, but under his guidance, I let go of my final reservations and fully embraced the teaching authority of the Church.

Inspired by him, my wife and I launched a weekly group which we dubbed “Catechism & Coffee” to discuss the Catechism of the Catholic Church with a group of friends, one of the many fruits sown by Msgr. Chiodo.

Monsignor and I had so many great conversations over the years, some of which ended in raucous laughter.

I attended a funeral a few days ago for another former Holy Trinity priest, Fr. Jim Laurenzo, who died shortly after Msgr. Chiodo. One of his closest friends reflected that Fr. Jim was a complicated man with simple needs.

In a way, it makes me think of Msgr. Chiodo, who had so much depth, and yet his simple focus was always on the Mass. He lived to say Mass and preach on the beauty of our Catholic faith.

Final correspondence

As he declined, we kept in touch. He wrote to me earlier this year:

“I am delighted and grateful that the Holy Family Project is bearing much fruit and will continue. Thanks to the Holy Spirit! The solution for the Holy Family Project is truly prayer. My prayer for you, Tom and Karen, is ongoing.”

A month later …

“I’ve always enjoyed being with you. You’re still one of God’s best promoters.”

His final note, with wavering handwriting …

“Your kindness was a gift of God. I remember so much the beauty of your words. God bless you.”

Msgr. Frank Chiodo left behind a legacy that is hard to calculate. He impacted so many lives through the power of his words and his unquenchable passion for the Mass. Personally, I am grateful that God allowed our lives to intersect.

As board president of Pulse Life Advocates, I am grateful that he enthusiastically participated in and left behind a project of such depth as The Holy Family Project.

Monsignor knows that I am quite the promoter when it comes to pro-life and Catholic projects. So I encourage you to click this link and take some time to soak in the richness of the Holy Family Project. Monsignor Frank Chiodo will appreciate it.

[One way Pulse Life Advocates promotes a culture of life in Iowa comes via video projects like “The Holy Family Project” and “How to Raise Pro-Life Children.” Help us continue our outreach with your financial support today.]