Father Stan Fortuna, C.F.R. is the recipient of Saint Francis University 2018 St. Francis of Assisi Spiritus Paenitentiae (Spirit of Penance) Award. He was granted this award for his musical ministry and ministry to youth over the past 20 plus years. For many years he was actively involved as a speaker for the summer youth conferences hosted by Franciscan University of Steubenville. The Spiritus Paenitantiae (Spirit of Penance) Award recognizes individuals or organizations whose acts of love, charity, and care of all creation exemplify the Peace Prayer of St. Francis.
The award is made possible through The Rev. Gabriel J. Zeis, T.O.R. Endowment in Franciscan Studies and Roman Catholic Theology, established by Saint Francis University alumnus Lou DiCerbo, CLU, ChFC, of Manhasset. DiCerbo is a member of the General Agents and Managers Association (GAMA) International Management Hall of Fame and a Distinguished Alumnus of Saint Francis University.
Fortuna accepted the award at a ceremony held at the Union League Club in New York City with alumni, as well as family and friends in attendance.
Prior to his conversion, he was a professional jazz musician who studied with the legendary Lennie Tristano (the “father of improvisational jazz”). During his formation years and while studying to enter the priesthood, Fortuna worked in Spanish Harlem, which is where he encountered hip-hop firsthand in the streets, a style he refers to as “rhythm and rhyme’” He was able to hear the daily lives/struggles of the neighborhood people through their “rap” music and soon was able to integrate his heart and techniques into developing a similar form of art and started to use rap to reach out to the less fortunate and beyond.
In 1987, Fortuna established his nonprofit company Francesco Productions, mixing music and message. Assigned to the work of preaching full-time, Fortuna travels across the country and the world celebrating Mass, giving talks, and performing concerts with the proceeds directly benefiting his work towards the poor and underprivileged families.