Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Joe Cantone shares his passion for prayer in Brooksville

Joe Cantone, right, says a prayer for his friend John Callea and Callea’s 3-year-old daughter Jessica on Tuesday at the Rising Sun Cafe in Brooksville. Cantone, who set up his prayer corner several years ago, was introduced to prayer by his mother and grandmother.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Joe Cantone, right, says a prayer for his friend John Callea and Callea’s 3-year-old daughter Jessica on Tuesday at the Rising Sun Cafe in Brooksville. Cantone, who set up his prayer corner several years ago, was introduced to prayer by his mother and grandmother.

BROOKSVILLE — For Joe Cantone, praying comes as naturally as walking. He began doing both at a very young age. Talking with God is part of his heritage, and he feels blessed to be able to pray for anyone in need.

Many weekday and Saturday mornings, Cantone can be found praying with and for people who have come into the Rising Sun Cafe in Brooksville, where he has set up a special prayer corner. Some people come in specifically for prayer; others are there to grab a bite and are drawn to his corner.

John Callea and his wife, Lisa, head the Love Your Neighbor ministry, based at their Rising Sun Cafe.

"Joe came to our (free community) dinner as a volunteer after reading about us in the paper," Callea said. "After a few months, he asked if he could set up a prayer corner, and for (several) years he has prayed with hundreds. … We have witnessed many miraculous healings and answers to prayer."

Cantone, 65, is quick to shift any praise of his ministry to God, and any attention that comes his way toward his mother and grandmother.

"Some call me a prayer warrior, but if I am, I couldn't hold a candle to my mother, who prayed constantly throughout the day, always seeking the Lord she loved so much," Cantone said. "My grandmother was the ultimate prayer warrior. She had the gift of intercession."

Both women introduced the young Cantone to prayer by example. His mother, Dorothy Cantone, would turn off the TV or put down a book she was reading to pray.

"She was very dedicated to prayer wherever she was," Cantone said. "She used to pray in the car. She was always praying."

His grandmother, Marie Esposito, was sought out by family and friends for prayer.

"Before I even went to school, when my grandmother would be babysitting me in her house, I would see neighbors come to the door and ask for Marie," Cantone said. "Some of them she didn't even know, but they would say, 'I'm a friend of so and so and they said you would pray for me.' I was very fortunate to also be there when they came back at a later date to tell my grandmother their prayers had been answered. I just thought it was great."

Both women, now deceased, attended St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Spring Hill, where Cantone is a member and where he helped launch a feeding program almost two years ago.

When Cantone's mother died last month, his friends were able to offer him comfort and give back some of the prayer support Cantone has provided for them.

"I have had the privilege of praying with Joe in his ministry and have witnessed many healings and testimonies," said John Stramiello, director of Behind the Stone Ministries in Spring Hill. "He knows it is not his doing, but God's doing."

Mike Wolff, director of Reconnections Inc., met and talked with Cantone when he came to Brooksville in January to film people active in the Love Your Neighbor ministry for a documentary he is making. The project will be released on the Internet later this year. Wolff said Cantone is a treasure in his life and the lives of many others.

"I've never known the feeling that there is someone praying faithfully for me every day," Wolff said.

There was a time when Cantone, who had begun his prayer ministry in the 1970s in Queens, N.Y., after he became part of a Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement, halted the ministry.

"I'd lost a very lucrative job on Wall Street, and then I really fell out of the ministry because I couldn't even pay my bills," he said. "I was homeless for six weeks. That was the end of me praying for other people for a while."

But the experience drove his roots deeper into God, he said.

"There's nothing like adversity to either make you or break you," Cantone said. "If in our adversity we can see the hand of the Lord, we know we're never alone and that there's a reason."

Cantone moved to Florida, at his mother's request, 15 years ago and worked several different jobs, finally retiring four years ago.

"When I mentioned to (the Calleas) to start a prayer corner, that launched me back into the prayer ministry," he said.

Now, with much of his time devoted to the ministry, Cantone encourages others to find their own quiet time to pray.

"This is a time like no other," he said. "Most people want comfort more than they want Christ. If you are not in the vine (Christ), you are going to whither up and die in today's world. It is absolutely beyond important to make sure you press into him at all costs."

Recently he set an email to friends with some admonitions about effective prayer.

Praying should be done from the heart, and done slowly, he says.

"How bad do you want to meet the living God, to experience him?" he asks. "The strength of your prayers will determine whether you pray, how often, how well, how long. Prayer is an expression of desire."

Above all, Cantone says, prayers must be heartfelt.

"Prayer is entering into God and letting him enter into you," he said, "It is an encounter of the most intimate love."

.Fast facts

He takes requests

People may send requests for prayer to Joe Cantone by email at [email protected] The words "Prayer Request" should be in the subject line of the email.

Joe Cantone shares his passion for prayer in Brooksville 08/03/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 3, 2012 8:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Bruno Mars' charisma glitters like gold at Tampa's Amalie Arena

    Blogs

    Nothing in this world should be as easy as Bruno Mars makes it look. Not singing, not dancing, and certainly not playfully seducing more than 17,500 starry-eyed Tampa fans with one of pop music’s best bands at your back.

    Bruno Mars performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Oct. 19, 2017.
  2. Mikhail Sergachev scores twice as Lightning shuts out Blue Jackets (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mikhail Sergachev said he blacked out for a few seconds after his first NHL goal Thursday night, a rocket slap shot from the point.

    Mikhail Sergachev, front, looks like he’s very in the moment with teammate Dan Girardi after scoring his first NHL goal, though he says he blacked out for a bit. He scores again in the second.
  3. Dodgers rout Cubs 11-1 to win pennant, head to World Series for first time since '88

    Ml

    CHICAGO — Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

    The Dodgers celebrate their Game 5 victory Thursday night over the Cubs at Wrigley Field, putting Los Angeles in the World Series for the first time since 1988.
  4. Another suspicious death in Tampa's Seminole Heights

    Crime

    TAMPA — Police were investigating what they were calling a suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights Thursday night, near the location of two fatal shootings last week.

    Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan addresses reporters about the latest suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights Thursday night. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL | Times]
  5. Duke tops preseason coaches' basketball poll; Gators No. 7

    College

    Duke has been tabbed basketball's preseason No. 1 for the second straight season in the coaches' poll, released Thursday.

    Florida point guard Chris Chiozza launches the shot of last season’s NCAA Tournament, a winning 3
against Wisconsin that put the Gators into the Elite Eight. Chiozza returns to lead a UF team that’s getting its share of preseason attention, including a No. 7 ranking in the coaches’ poll.