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Joe Palano lived in the dark but brought light into the world

On Dec. 20, 2016, St. Gabriel Catholic Church and the blind community in Broward unexpectedly lost one of God’s shining lights. Joe Palano, blind from birth, lived a joy-filled, meaningful life and was loved by all who knew him. He knew the importance of leading a balanced life including activities for the body, mind and spirit.

Joe had a background and a passion for radio and was actively involved with the Blind and Beyond Radio Show based in Orlando, a station for blind and sighted listeners. Thanks to his excellent travel skills and confidence, he traveled back and forth by train to Orlando for guest appearances, touching the lives of people who are blind and sighted.

Everyone who knew Joe knew that Joe loved to talk so he was a natural for radio. We would always have to say, “OK Joe, keep it short.” Joe realized the importance of getting exercise, and when the opportunity arose he went tandem biking — a perfect way for someone with no sight to get exercise. Since Joe also enjoyed eating good food, exercise was just as important. I think he considered every meal an opportunity to experience being in community or experiencing family.

Some regular readers may recognize Joe’s name because he has been featured in several articles in The Florida Catholic. Joe was a practicing Catholic and proud of it. He not only attended Mass each Sunday morning at St. Gabriel Church but he was also a regular lector, using his Braille book to do the readings. For the past three years he had participated in Broward County’s White Mass, celebrating the talents and gifts that people with disabilities bring to our Church and world.

During his last month of life, Joe was fully engaged in life and spending time with friends (he had a lot of them); appreciating each day that God gave to him. One of his favorite events was to attend the Christmas pageant at First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, which is audio described for the blind.

Joe may not have been able to see Jesus in the pageant and required someone to describe the details, but on the evening of Dec. 20, 2016, can you imagine how Joe felt to be able to see for the first time in his life, and have the face of Jesus be the first face he would see? Can you imagine how life changed for the man walking in darkness all his life, to now be surrounded by the light of God’s love? Can you imagine?

Joe, you will be remembered with love.

Comments from readers

Michael S McCormack - 02/02/2017 11:01 AM powerful. It brought tears to my "seeing" eyes. What a wonderful insight. Many blessings to you for all you do! Mike
Betty - 01/30/2017 01:48 PM
Beautiful 8573
Vickie Imperatori - 01/30/2017 11:56 AM
Beautiful article; powerful and inspiring. Just thinking about that encounter is breathtaking!

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