Mark and Kathy Fraraccio of South Saint Louis County, Missouri believe in returning some of the blessings they have received. They spend their time, talents and treasures supporting their local parish, St. Simon The Apostle, as well as St. John Vianney High School where all three of their sons attended school. “Our family has been very financially fortunate. If those of us that have been blessed with success do not help the Church, then who is going to help? Mark said. “If you want to be looked up to as a leader, then you have to lead. If we don’t do something to support Catholic education, then it will go by the wayside. We can’t let that go by the wayside. We cannot let that falter. We have to keep pushing it on.”
Mark Fraraccio knows how to push through some rough times. His paternal grandparents immigrated from Campobasso, Torella del Sannio, Italy a town and comune in the province of Campobasso. His maternal grandparents are from Abruzzi, Italy. Mark was born in Alliance, Ohio to American born parents, William Fraraccio and Mary Elizabeth Mazzaferro. His family lived in an Italian community and like most Little Italy’s, family and church were the center of life. Mark recalls growing up and learning that family time was very important. “My paternal grandfather owned an Italian bakery where I worked and have many memories. I remember my maternal Grandmother making pasta from scratch and all the Italian dishes my mother and aunts would prepare. At Christmas time I remember going to the Italian clubs: The Christopher Columbus, Dante, and Roma clubs. My mother and aunts made Italian cookies and candies for Christmas and for the many Italian weddings. I have many fond memories and I think our Italian heritage is important because as we get older, we tend to lose site of where we came from and who we are.”
Mark is also a veteran of the Vietnam War. He served in the 1st Air Cavalry Division from May 1969 to May 1970. He gives thanks for the prayers of his wife and mother-in-law during this time in his life and believes that is how he survived this experience. When he returned from Vietnam he married Kathy on May 20, 1972. While little or no money was saved after his service in the military, life with Kathy in their modest apartment was joyful.
After working in a box factory for a number of years, Mark decided to start his own business. The company started as JCMF Industries in 1983 and was a temporary help agency, a catastrophic cleanup company, and the last U.S. kite manufacturer in the United States. After much unbridled growth, he closed the catastrophic and kite companies. He kept JCMF Industries as an insurance holding company and in 1990 founded Progress Services Group, Inc., a funding company for temporary help agencies.
Mark and Kathy are incredibly proud of their association with St. Simon The Apostle Parish and St. John Vianney High School. They have been active at St. John Vianney High School since their oldest son James attended graduating in 1993, followed by Stephen in 1995, and Robert in 2007. Kathy says she is still impressed with the family feel of Vianney, even after all these years. “For me, it’s always been that sense of belonging to the larger family that Vianney provided for my sons” she said. Their investment of time for the students of Vianney is matched by their financial investment in the Griffin Fund and special events. They give because they support the holistic approach of the education program offered at St. John Vianney – education of mind, body and spirt.
On any given Sunday, you can find Mark Fraraccio, along with Vianney Alum Tony Sebben (another Italian), serving as greeters at the weekly 9 a.m. mass at St. Simon’s Catholic Church in South St. Louis County. Mark had served on the school board at St. Simon’s for a number of years, seven times on the Parish Council, 23 years as Finance Chair, and was a leader in building the new church in 2000, as well as the creation of Simon Says Preschool and Daycare Facility in 1995 at the parish. With many Catholic Schools and Churches struggling in the same time period, his leadership has helped this parish thrive.
Mark and Kathy have been helpful with a recent addition to the Italian American Community in St. Louis. They were among the first to provide financial help with the new Italian American Radio Show in St. Louis on Sunday mornings at 1:00 pm central time. The broadcast originates from WEW770 Radio an AM band located in St. Louis, Missouri and is the “oldest broadcast station west of the Mississippi River”. Ciao St. Louis (ciaostl.com) also streams the broadcast live and podcast can be found of earlier shows. Ciao St. Louis, a not-for-profit Corporation, would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Fraraccio for their continued support and leadership in the Italian community.