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Bruno Serato: A Man of Faith and Courage

Joseph Beaird, Editor

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This story was originally composed in May 2017 as the writer’s final project of the academic year.    

Woken up from his sleep by a phone call, Sir Bruno Serato did not believe what he was hearing. It must have been a cruel joke. At four in the morning of February 4th, 2017, tragedy struck him. Serato’s life was turned upside-down by a fire at his restaurant.

Quickly coming to terms with his disbelief, he got in his car. Even on the way to the incident, he prayed to God that it wouldn’t be real. When he began to see the plumes of smoke, his heart stopped. Fear and anxiety filled every fiber of his being.

Still he didn’t realize the severity of the situation until he arrived at the scene. Completely shocked by the smoke and ashes, Serato was numb to his surroundings. When the police chief addressed Sir Bruno, the look of dejection on his face said more than enough. The owner of the beloved restaurant was crushed. All that was left from the Anaheim White House was a skeleton of charred emptiness.

For two straight days, Serato cried over his loss. Realizing that his creation and labor of love to serve others was gone, he was struck with immobilizing grief. He panicked about how to continue his services and worried how he would bounce back. Thanks to his faith in God, Bruno Serato is able to carry on through this time of chaos.

“Thank God I have faith, that’s what I say to everyone,” said Serato.

When the flames settled, an ashy foundation was all that remained. Still, Bruno had hope. He began to walk around inside of the restaurant. As he searched through the remain, the firefighters that escorted him asked if there was anything in particular he was looking for.

Looking through the ashes, there was only one thing on Serato’s mind. Although he had lost a picture of his mother and himself in the fire, he had a copy of it at home. What was more important to him was his rosary, given to him and blessed by Pope Francis.

As they were searching for a while, Bruno began to believe he wasn’t going to find it. “If you are going to have to search all night for it, I can ask the Pope if he could send me another,” said Serato to the firefighters. Just as Bruno was about to stop looking, his niece saw something shiny on the ground. The cross was there, gleaming through the darkness, with some of the rosary intact. At that moment, he knew that God was walking right there with him.

These events alone did not cause Serato to make it through this crisis. Every night he talks to God and has often joked around by asking, “God, did you make the fire happen so that I would become a better person?” If this is the case, it’s not much of a stretch.

Astonishingly, Serato finds a way to see some positivity even in the worst of situations. “I found a quote that said God has his best soldiers to the toughest battle. This has been incredibly hard for me to digest. I guess that must mean I am one of God’s best soldiers!”added Bruno.

Not only did he have God to help him get through the the fire, but the outpouring of those involved in the White House Community helped Serato in more ways than he could possibly imagine.

Naturally, one of Bruno’s first reactions to losing the White House was wondering how he would start rebuilding and to continue the services in the meanwhile.  By trying to figure out the best methods of fundraising, Serato discovered the kindness within his community.

Without even asking for help, love poured out in sympathy for Serato’s situation.“Gofundme isn’t my style, but one of my friends created one for me,” Serato explained. Already, the GoFundMe page has raised 200,000 dollars with an astonishing 2,000 individual donations.

What Bruno found most surprising was that people donated no matter how much money they had. “One woman apologized for only giving 5 dollars,” said Serato. “My message to her is don’t apologize, you didn’t even have to do that.”

Sir Bruno never knew the community had loved him this much. “They say that if you do something good, you’ll receive good back two-fold,” he said. “In my case, I got it a million times back.”

Bruno’s constant kindness and selflessness was instilled in him when he was very young. Growing up and to this day, Serato has always looked to his mother as his biggest inspiration.

Coming from a hardworking family in Italy, Bruno has had restaurant experience since he was young. The skills he learned from working in his family restuarant greatly assisted him when he moved to America with only $150 in his pocket. Starting as a busboy, he worked his way up to becoming a renowned chef.

Bruno was always used to coming home to his loving mother who never hesitated to open up their house to others. Her diligent spirit and true selflessness inspires Serato to be like her. After God, she serves as inspiration for many of his charitable actions.

Serato felt called to continue the services that his mother created, such as Katerina’s Club. Currently, he assists the Boys and Girls Club, as well as keeping many of the Anaheim White House’s charitable services up and running in various locations. The ability he has to continue in these harsh times is truly impeccable.

The Servite community has a strong tie to Sir Bruno through his great kindness. Mr. Pete Bowen, President of Servite High School, detailed his contributions to Servite. “Bruno has been a supporter of Servite in word and deed for many years,” said Bowen. “He has graciously hosted Servite events, recommended Servite to many who trust him, and worked with Servite on homeless and disadvantaged issues in Anaheim.” Let’s not forget the amount of pasta he has he has donated to Her Servant’s Kitchen!

Students have much to learn from the character of Serato. His selfless attitude and strong faith in God make him a valuable role model to all. Mr. Jim Carter reflected on what we as a student body can learn from Bruno. “It isn’t hard to do something nice and selfless for someone else,” said Carter. “What is hard is sustaining it, increasing it, and giving your passion to it till it becomes part of who you are.”

Bowen agrees. “Make a commitment to do something good–a ministry,” he said. “Realize that because the world, at its very core, is about love, that everything we do is an opportunity to practice love and in doing so find our own personal fulfillment.”

What makes Bruno so special is his continued positivity and kindness in spite of harsh tragedy. He was able to bear his cross and find the goodness that can come out of relating suffering to Christ. Even when he lost it all, Serato had the courage to fight on and to continue his charitable services.

Character isn’t the only thing that makes Bruno such an impressive man. Many different organizations have recognized him for his kindness. By serving the less fortunate and living out his mission, Serato has received honors such as the CNN Hero Award, Servite’s 2016 Excellence in Leadership Award, and has also been knighted by the Italian Consulate.

We can praise Sir Bruno’s actions in our words and our actions. He is currently still in the process of trying to raise funds to rebuild the Anaheim White House, so if possible, you can donate to his gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/AnaheimWhiteHouse. If you don’t have money to spare, it is possible to donate time by volunteering at the Anaheim Boys and Girls Club. Above all else, the Servite community has a special responsibility to continue to keep Bruno in our hearts and prayers.

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Bruno Serato: A Man of Faith and Courage