“But this building went up in 1959 and needs to be renovated a little bit,” he said.
Zoppo is up to the job. Growing up in the Norwood/Canton area, he began his higher education with a degree in business from Villanova, graduating in 1978.
“It’s served me very well,” he said of his exposure to practical economics. Yet, it was at Villanova that he also found himself drawn to something more spiritual, the De La Salle Christian Brothers, an international order dedicated to teaching.
While brothers take vows of chastity and poverty, they do not serve Mass.
“We are not ordained,” Zoppo said.
Like the church generally, the order is growing stronger in Third World countries.
“But we’re not doing as well as we would like in the United States and Europe,” Zoppo said.
The status of “brother” has not spared the group from the taint brought on by the priest abuse scandal.
“Each and every one of us has been touched by that, has had to cope with it,” Zoppo said. “All of us have an obligation to ensure this abuse doesn’t happen again.”
An advantage in not being a priest, Zoppo noted, is a lack of priestly duties. “Which gives me,” as he opened his arms to the school, “more time to devote to all this.”
Part of an Italian-American family, he’s one of four siblings. His father, grandfather and brother are all contractors.
“It’s a strong Catholic family. My grandparents, in particular, were very proud to have someone in the family in a religious life,” he said.
That life began at the Christian Brothers School in Manhattan following graduation from Villanova. At this point, Zoppo was delighted to be teaching, coaching track and using New York City and all its attractions as one of his teaching tools. He decided it was truly what he wanted to do.