Dr. Franco Camarca – Biographical Note

+Franco Camarca was born July 14 1950 in Bisaccia (Avellino, Italy), son of +Carmine, construction worker and sculptor, and Maria Grazia.

From his 20s, Franco was very involved helping the unemployed – young adults with disabilities, former drug addicts, and ex-convicts, to pursue an education and/or learn a trade.

A bright young adult, he earned a scholarship and began the study of Psychology at the University La Sapienza in Rome. Since draft was still compulsory, he applied to become an officer in the Italian Air Force. While in the Air Force he completed his Doctorate with a one-of-a-kind dissertation: “Effects of the flight on supersonic planes on the psychology of Combat Ready pilots of the Italian Air Force”.

Honorably discharged from the Air Force as Second Lieutenant, he returned to his small hometown, where he became the highest-ranking medical officer, responsible of the Territorial Units of Rehabilitation, and of the Office of Documentation and Promotion for the Insertion in the Workplace of the Disabled, Formerly Addicted, or Socially Emarginated Youth.

Eventually he began to collaborate on a number of research projects directly with groups of the Italian Parliament as well as with the Church (Caritas Italy, C.E.I.). He was named Organizer of the Italian Citizens Residing Abroad by a commission of the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament in order to help Italians abroad and their descendants learn how to claim Italian citizenship and voting rights. His work brought him to travel abroad for over a decade. He returned to Italy from one such trip with a wife, Angela Consuelo Torres Guerra, and a child, Raul Carmine, our brother Bernardo.

Being a published writer and journalist as a result of his research and investigative work, he collaborated with a number of newspapers, magazines, and scholarly publications. He focused on the situation of children with disabilities, inmates, and the phenomenon of immigration from outside the European Union, which at the time was merely beginning. He founded the first “Center for the Family and Service for Immigrants”, in the municipality of Civitavecchia, in collaboration with the Catholic Church (Caritas Italia) and the local Police Department. Centers such as these are now found throughout Italy.

When he moved with his family to the United States, Dr. Camarca continued his work for the immigrant poor. He received letters of introduction to the Archbishop of Miami from Mons. Saviola, the Director of the Migrantes Foundation (part of the Italian Episcopal Conference). He established a small group to help Italian immigrants, called “Italian Counseling”, which would provide free of charge translations, notarizations, assistance to find out how to obtain work and study visas. He also cooperated with several groups, among which Youth Co-op (a non-profit dedicated to improve the social and economic conditions of immigrant and refugee families and individuals), Solidaridad Sin Fronteras (a non-profit that aids foreign trained healthcare professionals to revalidate their licenses and be trained to work in the US healthcare system), and Achieve Counseling (a group of immigration and naturalization consultants particularly involved with refugees).

After working briefly as a Private Security Officer, he became foreign correspondent of Italian newspapers  and published several short books and a series of essays. He was also hired as instructor of Italian at Miami-Dade College.

Dr. Camarca began to battle cancer in 2010, surviving three delicate surgeries, including one in Italy by Dr. Spriano, primary surgeon of the National Cancer Institute in Rome. While in remission, he saw his son become a Franciscan of Life, graduate with a Master’s in Computer Science, and become very involved in the service of the preborn child through Respect Life and Project Joseph, of the chronically and terminally ill through Memorial West Hospital and St Maximilian Kolbe parish, and of the immigrant poor by directly pointing those who reached out to him in the right directions. He also saw his son work as a teacher at a school for at-risk youth, while pursuing professional teaching licenses and studying philosophy and theology.

In 2016 Dr. Camarca began to have serious breathing problems. Despite a number of visits to ERs and a number of tests and scans, the doctors could not find anything serious.

In 2017 he began to experience a strong pain in the jaw. Visited by one of the lead maxillofacial surgeons of South Florida, he was told that he may have a tumor and he was admitted to the University of Miami Hospital on Good Friday. In a matter of weeks, his situation was deemed terminal. He was transferred to the Hospice floor where he received excellent care. On May 5th he received the Last Rites from a good friend of our community and of the Camarca family, Msgr. Oscar Castañeda, the Chaplain at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Our Superior was present alongside brother and his mom.

When offered the Eucharist, Dr. Camarca reached out to the host, and after receiving a small fragment under the tongue he “lit up” as if he had received a spark of life. He  smiled at his loved ones, and even sat on the side of the bed, leaning back to back with Br. Jay.

Dr. Camarca was wearing a crucifix and had accepted a scapular from his wife and son. The Franciscans of Life donated him a 10″ wooden crucifix that he could hold next to him in the hospital bed.

The following night Brother and Dr. Camarca’s wife received an emergency call. Dr. Camarca had a respiratory crisis.  A nurse found him unable to breath, clutching the wooden crucifix in his hands. The crisis passed. Brother and his mom spent the next day with him, aided by the kindness and professionalism of the staff. Dr. Camarca had a tough time breathing, but was not in distress. At evening time, he appeared more peaceful.  Brother resolved to return to the Motherhouse rather than exercise his permission to remain the night.

His wife went downstairs for a cup of coffee and returned to speak to Dr. Camarca (still unconscious). They held hands. She then sat down to read. After a few minutes, she noticed something unusual and called the nurse.

Mrs. Torres called the Franciscan of Life Motherhouse.  Brother Bernardo was still on the way home.  When he arrived, Brother Superior redirected him back to the hospital.  So peaceful and composed was his father’s countenance, that Brother Bernardo’s first impression was that he was asleep.

Franco had passed away, peacefully and discretely. Our Lord Jesus Christ had come “like a thief in the night” and taken his soul in His loving arms. It was the night of May 6, 2017. Dr. Camarca was 66 years old.

After spending some time with him, the family left the hospital in the company of our superior.

The Camarca family incurred serious medical expenses during the past six years, and more than once the Franciscans of Life had provided them with support and guidance.

The funeral is being arranged through the courtesy and generosity of many friends and benefactors: the Archdiocese of Miami, the Knights of Columbus, the deacons and priests at St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church, Msgr. Oscar Castañeda, Chaplain at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Scarano Funeral Homes, Respect Life Ministry, and Franciscans of Life. To them the Camarca family wishes to offer their gratitude and appreciation.

You may see a “memorial wall” of Dr. Camarca and his family by following this link: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B-a2Tfg_0-y3eVhTa0FNLW92N3c?usp=sharing

  • In the near future we will insert a link to the “memorial page” kindly hosted by Scarano Funeral Homes.
Published in: on May 9, 2017 at 4:06 AM  Comments Off on Dr. Franco Camarca – Biographical Note