The recent article on MailOnline about the life of Anthony Ciccone told the story of a man who is homeless and alcohol-addicted, living in Traverse, MI. The reporter went out of his way to spend time with Tony and interview him in depth about the course of his life. So much media attention is hardly common for a homeless man who is in various stages of drunkenness during the interviews. However, Tony is the older brother of the famous entertainer, Madonna, and this made him a topic of interest.
The article posted by MailOnline can be found here.
I have been a member of the Unification Church for almost 40 years, and I knew Tony quite well during his years in the Unification Church. I met him when he was doing renovations on a beautiful old building that had been purchased to house students near the University of Chicago in 1981. I was also working in the house and staying home expecting a baby so we talked a lot and he would ask me so many questions about my faith, about Rev. Sun Myung Moon, and about the teachings of the Divine Principle, which is the theology of the Unification Church. Tony was very sincere in his efforts to understand, had a good work ethic, and was also quite a good cook. He liked to play guitar and sing as well. I would never have recognized him if someone showed me the pictures in the article by Tom Leonard. Back in the eighties, he was a healthy, dark-haired young man with horn-rimmed glasses.
The last time I saw Tony was in 1984 at the Unification Seminary in Barrytown, NY. He was there on some kind of an errand and was working in New York City in the church buildings there. He seemed so surprised that I remembered him fondly. I was taken aback by that reaction because after all the time we had worked together and discussed so many deep issues, of course I would remember him. At that time I had not heard of his sister becoming famous but he had shared the story of his mother's early death, difficulties with his stepmother, and having to take so much responsibility as the oldest of eight children. Not too much later my husband showed me a picture of Madonna on a record at a store and said, “Guess whose sister that is?” I never saw Tony again. Word had it that he went to work somewhere in her sphere of influence.
I was so saddened to hear how much Tony has suffered, and my sincere hope for him is that he can find his way to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and ask them so many questions about how it works just as he used to ask me so many questions about my faith. Perhaps recovery is “boring,” but in your mid-fifties, it can save your life when you have little time left without it. The door of our church is always open and Tony would not be the first person to need help with addiction. We have an often-stated way of looking at personal development; our current Senior Pastor of the United States, Rev. In Jin Moon, coined the term “I-dealism.” This means that if you seek ideals such as a healthy, happy life with good relationships, then you have to be willing to deal with your issues and those of your family and friends. There are numerous Unificationists who are going the way of recovery for their addictions, sometimes personal and sometimes the inherited affects from their family of origin. We don't look down on anyone. The path to fixing this broken world is full of painful realities that must be faced.
Contributed by Loretta Schauffler