Meet Dr. Molla April 12 and support the shop, ministries named in her mother’s honor
Story by Reagan Scott
LINCOLN (SNR) — Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla, the daughter of well-known Italian Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, will be at a meet-and-greet at Gianna’s Java and Gelato in Lincoln Thursday, April 12, from 4 to 7 p.m.
When St. Gianna was pregnant with her fourth child, she developed a tumor in her uterus which threatened her life as well as that of her baby. While doctors suggested abortion among her treatment options, St. Gianna decided to have the tumor removed while her baby was still in utero, to save the child’s life, but she died from septic peritonitis a week after her daughter, Gianna Emanuela, was born.
St. Gianna was canonized by Pope John Paul II May 16, 2004. Her husband and family were in attendance.
Because of her notoriety as the daughter of a saint, Gianna Emanuela Molla is a very busy person. She is asked to visit countries around the world and as a result, is very selective of where she goes. Despite this fact, this will be Molla’s third visit to Lincoln.
Father Christopher Kubat, the executive director of Catholic Social Services (CSS), met Molla’s brother Pierluigi Molla first. They were connected through Thomas McKenna, of the Saint Gianna’s Physician’s Guild.
Father Kubat told Pierluigi about St. Gianna’s Women’s Home, which was then about to open, in May 2011. Through Pier Luigi, Father Kubat got in touch with Gianna Emanuela, who wanted to visit Lincoln and visit the home.
St. Gianna’s Women’s Home is a home that allows women to stay as long as they need to escape domestic violence and pressures to get an abortion. Since its opening, 34 babies have been saved from abortion.
Molla is devoted to the home, and also to Gianna’s Java and Gelato, the coffee shop named after her mother and designed to support the ministries of Catholic Social Services.
The upcoming meet-and-greet is a way for Molla to meet the people of the Lincoln Diocese and raise awareness for the coffee shop which is connected to CSS on O Street.
Father Kubat said, “She loves Lincoln so much. She just wants to greet people and do something for the coffee shop.”
Gianna’s Java and Gelato opened on January 15, 2016. The store sells coffee and gelato, along with a variety of menu items for breakfast and lunch.
Jake Mousel, the general manager of the store, said he estimates that an average of 100 people visit the coffee shop every day.
Gianna’s has both drive-thru and sit-down options which helps the store better cater to its different visitors.
“People can go through the drive-thru on the way to work and a lot also come in to sit and study,” Mousel said. “Having both of these options is a blessing for the place, and I can appreciate the convenience of the drive-thru.”
Getting food at Gianna’s doesn’t just have to be a matter of convenience though, it can also be an avenue to do good. All of the profits from the coffee shop go directly back to Catholic Social Services to support the organization’s ministries, an added bonus to getting good food or coffee.
“I think that we have some of the best coffee in Lincoln,” Mousel said, “and our gelato is fresh made, in-house.
“When you get coffee here, it does go back to your community,” he continued. “You can treat yourself and give back at the same time.”
Molla also enjoys the food at Gianna’s and, according to Father Kubat, has commented that the gelato there is as good as the gelato in Italy. The secret is that the sweet treat is made with an Italian gelato machine and ingredients from Italy.
Gianna’s has also become a host for many diocesan events and a place for artists to express themselves and share their work.
The coffee shop now hosts the Diocesan Office of Evangelization’s “Coffeehouse Series,” and recently hosted a series of talks focused on the Reformation that Mousel said were well attended.
During Lent, Gianna’s held a Lenten lunch series that featured meatless, ethnic cuisine on Fridays. Examples of dishes include Afgani cuisine like bolani and kabuli pulao, as well as falafel, hummus and salad from South Sudan. These choices call to mind the many refugees assisted by CSS each year.
Visitors to the store can see the art wall where local artists can sell their work, with a portion of the proceeds going back to Gianna’s. On first Friday evenings, Mousel also tries to book bands to play for patrons.
In the future, Mousel is working with people in the refugee department of CSS to hold fundraisers for South Sudan.
To find out more about the events being held at Gianna’s, interested individuals are invited to follow the coffee shop on Facebook or sign up for Mousel’s mailing list.
Sent out once a month, the list details the different events going on at the store, the drink of the month and information about the saint for whom the drink is named. To sign up for these emails, individuals should go to gsjavagelato.com, click on the “News & Events” tab and scroll down to “Join Our Mailing List.”
For now, people should mark their calendars for the meet-and-greet with Molla April 12.
“I’m just thrilled that she’s coming back, and we get to see her again,” Mousel said.
Father Kubat also commented on what a rare opportunity Molla’s visit will be.
“The prayers of Gianna Emanuela are very powerful. It’s not every day that someone gets to meet the daughter of a canonized saint.”