You are often asked if you are from Italy because you speak fluent Italian. Was this something you learned from family members in your household and friends while growing up? Did you also learn to speak French fluently in the same way?  

A  While growing up, we were very much conscious of our Italian roots and culture. My father’s people came from Sorrento, Italy and my mother’s family, the Cassos, was the first Italian immigrants in Ascension Parish coming from near Venice. Having been in the United States for several generations, unfortunately, we did not grow up speaking Italian. Having the opportunity to attend the North American College and the Gregorian University in Rome gave me the incredible blessing to learn the beautiful Italian language. I have always loved the romance languages and French was my major in college.  

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…with FATHER CLEO MILANO, pastor, Our Lady of Mercy Church in Baton Rouge  

Q  What are some of the most important life lessons that you learned as a result of growing up in Donaldsonville?  

A  Donaldsonville is a wonderful community in which to grow up. It is a small town filled with lots of interesting characters. It possesses a beautiful history, and is a place where faith, family, tradition and friendships are the greatest attributes. As a young boy, educated at Ascension Catholic School, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and the Daughters of Charity played an extremely important role in my own faith formation and in sowing the seeds of a vocation to the priesthood. I was always in awe of the beauty and magnificence of the Ascension of Our Lord Church. I always felt the presence of God and the Blessed Mother there.  

Q  You are known as a “people person.” What are some of the enjoyable settings for socializing with people?  

A  Yes, I would like to think of myself as a “people person.” I enjoy the entire spectrum of the many wonderful people that I know. Msgr. Bill Green once told me that the best things in life happen at table. I always enjoy the invitations to share a meal with friends and parishioners and I enjoy hosting as well.  

Q  As a person who likes to travel, what is one of the most favorite places you have visited and why is it your favorite?  

A  As someone who does enjoy traveling, the excitement and energy of a big city like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, and Chicago are appealing. But, because I am also so very busy, the idea of crashing on the beach is equally inviting.  

Q  What type of dish do you like to cook the most?  

A  Contrary to what many people think, I am not a cook and no one would want to eat anything I did cook. I am much better at setting the table and washing the dishes.

Q Tell us something most people may not know about you.  

A Growing up, both of my grandfathers had service stations and my cousins had a fried chicken business. I have pumped a lot of gas, checked the air pressure in a lot of tires, and fried a lot of chicken in my life.