‘God Calls You’

More than 70 years have passed since Bro. Gilbert Pretto, CSC, lived under German occupation during World War II, but he still has vivid recollections of growing up in Castelgomberto, a small town in the province of Vicenza, Italy. His father, Ernest, left Italy years prior in search of work and served in the U.S. Army during the war. Bro. Gilbert, his younger brother and mother remained in Italy.

At the age of 12, Bro. Gilbert attended seminary for six months and then immigrated to the U.S. in 1946. How did he become interested in religious life so young? “God calls you,” he stated. “You only respond.” Bro. Gilbert attended public schools in Manhattan and the Bronx and briefly worked as a commercial photographer. He had a friend interested in a religious vocation and tagged along on a visit to see the vocation director, Bro. Maurus O’Malley, CSC. “I saw Bro. Maurus one or two times and that was it,” Bro. Gilbert recalled. “I was accepted.”

An educator in the faith, Bro. Gilbert taught grammar school in New Jersey, New York and for many years at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel elementary school in the Bronx. He continued to pursue photography and developed new talents in Eastern art and computer programming. In fact, while he was still teaching at Mt. Carmel, Bro. Gilbert began a new ministry, a website devoted to educating people on Catholic faith and teachings, that has continued well into retirement.

“Seeing is believing,” for Bro. Gilbert, so the site includes a multitude of themes ranging from “Basic Truths” to “Miracles of Christ” accompanied by his own photography and other imagery. A work in process for more than 15 years, he estimates there are more than 40,000 images loaded on to the website. “It keeps me spiritually alive,” he explained. “If somebody reads it, they may be inspired by God to do something with their lives or see a truth they didn’t see before. It keeps me going.”