People

Carl Furillo

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Brooklyn Dodger

Padulese

Alexander DeAngelis, with invaluable assistance from Joseph Avella, Elise Avella Feiner, Tina Marmorale Connelly, Vincent Marmorale and Vicki Raifsnider

Carl Furillo was one of America’s most famous Major League Baseball players. He started in the majors in April 1946 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, stuck with them for his whole career, and made his last appearance in May 1960 for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He played right field and was renowned for his strong throwing arm which earned him the nickname “The Reading Rifle” both because he grew up near Reading Pennsylvania and because his arm was as strong and accurate as a rifle.  He was also known by the nickname “Skoonj” for his love of the salt water snail called “scungilli” in Italian.

Italian Americans growing up in the New York area, or for that matter, anywhere in America in the late 40s and 50s, regarded him as their hero.  His team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, was the favorite team of many Italian Americans.  Brooklyn Dodgers fans were intensely loyal especially because the Dodgers were always an underdog to the rival New  York Yankees.  When the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles in 1958, many fans   felt personally betrayed.  That feeling remains strong even now 65 years later.  But Carl was still a hero to them. He played in two All-Star  games (1952 and 1953) and in seven World Series, winning in two of them (1955 and, 1959).

Carl lived in East New York as opposed to many of the Dodgers who lived in Flatbush near Ebbetts Field, probably because he wanted to be in an Italian neighborhood with availability of good southern Italian food. His favorite restaurant was Carlucci’s on Eastern Parkway between Atlantic and East New York Avenues; he was also a denizen of Tex’s Pizzeria on Atlantic Avenue which was in close proximity to the Paduli Club.

Carl Furillo brought pride to many Italian-Americans including those of us descended from Paduli. What few of us knew, however, was that Carl Furillo was also descended from Paduli. Carl’s mother was Filomena Petroccia. Filomena, “Minnie,” was born in Paduli 18 February 1885. Her parents were GiovanniAntonnio Petroccia and Maria Michela Signiorello.

Filomena emigrated to America in 1909 at the age of 24 arriving in New York on March 5th on the San Giorgio from Naples. Unlike most other voyages of Padulesi to New York, she was the sole person from Paduli on this particular voyage. In Reading, Pennsylvania, not in New York as stated in a previous version of this post, she met and married Michael Furillo. They lived near Reading. They had six children of whom Carl, born in 1922, was the youngest. Filomena’s sister, Alessandra “Sallie” Petroccia, emigrated in 1909 and also lived in Reading, Pa.

Filomena’s name appears on Line 28, three lines from the bottom

Unfortunately . Filomena died in 1940 when her son Carl was only 28 years old.  She is buried in Gethsemane Cemetery, Lauraldale, Berks County, Pa., Section MC, Plot 248, Grave 3.

Filomena “Minnie” Petroccia Furillo buried together with her husband Michael Furillo

Carl died of leukemia on 21 January 1989 at age 66.  He is buried in Forest Hills Memorial Park, Reiffton, Berks County, Pa., Section J, Lot 266, Grave A.

Carl and his wife Fern’s headstone. Images of Filomena and Carl’s headstones were made by Vicki Raifsnider, a descendant of the Petroccia Family.

Note: The original family name was Fiorello.

Note: I am grateful to Joseph Avella for providing the interesting details about Carl’s life in East New York. I am also grateful to Vicki Raifsnider, a descendant of the Petroccia family. She long ago provided me information about the Petroccia sisters. She is also responsible for the burial images and related information. Thanks to Vincent Marmorale for providing the image of the SKOONJ license plate.

THE END

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Alex DeAngelis-7 April 2021

People: “Mariuccia” – a Poem About My Grandmother, Maria Teresa Mainiero

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This poem, “Mariuccia,” is dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, Maria Teresa Mainiero, who at the age of 24 years left behind everything she knew to travel with her son, Alessandro, my father, to a new life in America.  She never saw her mother and father again.  At the time she went to America, it is unlikely that she had ever left Paduli even to visit Naples. Her cousin, Gaetano D’Onofrio, escorted her to the port in Naples. Traveling across the Atlantic she was alone.  When I think about it , I am overwhelmed by her bravery and her faith that on the other side she would be met by her husband, Rocco D’Angelis, and that she and her son would be taken care of.

Alexander DeAngelis

MARIUCCIA

October 1, 1923, thirteen days on-board,

Thirteen days since Vesuvius had vanished beyond the horizon.

Exhausted and frightened, she wondered “What if he’s not here?”

One arm held her son, Alessandro, his legs straddling her hip.

Her eyes searched the crowd and found him,

Her husband, Rocco, was waving up to her.

Her eyes came alive with that twinkle of light

That always defined who she was

And a smile emerged on her olive skinned face.

She grabbed Alessandro’s arm and waved it back saying

“Look ‘lessand’ look, Papa’ is waving at you.”

Steadied by a crew member, Maria Teresa Mainiero, “Mariuccia”,

Gripped her son tightly, stepped onto the gangplank and descended to the quay.

Two weeks since she had stood on solid ground,

Her legs wobbled as if still seeking balance against the waves.

Her valise sat waiting on the quay,

Containing everything that she owned:

Clothes for her and for her son,

And a block of pecorino cheese wrapped up in a cotton cloth.

She looked back only once at the S.S. President Wilson.

She had never seen the sea before, and did not wish to see it soon again.

Smells of oil, tar and unwashed bodies, had mingled with the salty air,

And sickened her throughout the voyage.

She grabbed her valise, and turning around,

Walked through the gates into her new life.

She would never see her mother, Giu’anna, or father, Vicenzo, again,

Never hear their voices,

Nor inhale the pungent tobacco from his pipe,

Nor touch her mother’s cheek,

Last seen streaked by tears of bottomless separation.

Nor would she see her sisters, Diamante and Teresa, nor brother, Domenico, for another 40 years.

Who can comprehend the sorrow of knowing

That you may never see your family again?

So it was for so many then, separated from family and place,

Strangers in a strange land unable to speak or read or write.

“What will happen to me and to my son?”

Please God that Rocc’ will provide whatever we need to live.”

Rocco d’Angelis, lean and dark from working in the fields,

Rushed to them and embraced his son tenderly.

They walked to South Ferry and took the subway to Penn station,

Switched to the Long Island Railroad and headed for Oyster Bay.

There they lived for the rest of their lives.

They walked from Oyster Bay station less than a quarter mile

To Larrabe Avenue, number 27, the house that Rocco had rented for them from his sister, Maddalena.

“Such a strange house, all wood, no stone and no mortar like the houses back home in Paduli.”

She fed the baby “’lessand’” and ate some stale bread,

Praying that it would stay down.

Content now with Rocco beside her,

She slept her first sleep in this strange land.

If only I had known how important all this would be to me,

So many questions I would have asked:

“How did you travel from Paduli to Napoli,

By train, by car, by mule-drawn wagon?”

“What was it like on the boat among so many strangers?”

“What was it like to leave your mother, father, sisters and brother?”

“Was only Grandpa there to meet you at the pier?”

“What did you think of the first house so different from those back home?”

Perhaps it’s a blessing of mercy bestowed on the elders,

That the children are wrapped up in their own world,

So that parents and grandparents both are spared from a deluge of inquiries.

But still, if I had only known how precious these things would become to me!

Now I pore over a few faded photos

Searching for meaning in every angle and shadow.

“Who took the picture?”

“Was the day hot or cold?”

“Is it true that some had no shoes?”

“Did they all sit down for a huge meal after the picture was taken?”

Nothing could remove the devastation of being apart from her family.

The toll of that separation would be with her until the end.

But husband and son were there needing her love and care.

Others from her native town also lived in this new place,

People who worked on the estates of the wealthy that surrounded the tiny village:

Roosevelts and Tiffanies and others of even greater wealth.

Among the immigrants were Rocco’s aunts, uncles, and a sister

Drawn there by those who had come before.

Oyster Bay was their “Little Paduli”, their “Little Benevento”.

There was Diamante La Bella, a Principe from Ceppalone;

Cicco Saverio Melillo, which my mother couldn’t pronounce,

So she called him Czechoslovakia.

Each one had a sopranome, a nickname from back home,

Needed to tell one Giuseppe or Rocco from another.

Rocco’s sopranome, “e Mario”, was from some Mario back in time.

If someone said “Rocco did this or Rocco did that”,

You asked, “Which Rocco?” And the answer was Rocc’ ‘e Mar’.

Bartolomeo Ranaldo lived up the street, Cumba Meo to his paesanos,

One of the Vigna Cort’ Ranaldos, so called because,

They lived near the Grape Vine Courtyard in Paduli.

There was “Fin’ a Mond’” Abate, End of the World, from Anstice Street.

Mazzeos , Marmorales, Verlingieris, and Truglias,

Florios, Frumientos, Ferravantes and Feleppas,

Mastrovitos, Marrones, Massimianos, and Messeres,

Sarnos, Savinettis, Saras, Scaramuzzos and Sordis,

And so many Minicozzis , it was impossible to keep track.

Vegetable mongers drove through the neighborhoods,

Calling out their produce in the dialect of home.

Mulingname, vasa Nicola, cugoozill’, fazull’,

And last but not least, cidriulla per la sorella,

The last shouted out with particular vigor to the giggles of all the ladies.

Ciambruno, the Bread Man from Glen Cove,

Came every day with freshly baked loaves,

Some round, some long, some covered in sesame seeds,

Some Neopolitan, some Sicilian.

In the fall the Luigi Galassos, senior and junior, delivered cases of grapes from California

For each family to make its own wine, just like back home.

You either worked or starved,

But those facing hard times were helped by neighbors,

Especially paesanos from the same home town.

There was help in life and also help in death to cover that last worldly expense.

Grandpa worked at Sagamore Hill, Teddy’s Roosevelt’s estate,

As a bracciante, a “pair of arms”, doing gardening and other chores.

Mariuccia took in laundry and kept the family home.

She scoured the fields for dandelions to make  minestra,

A soup of boiled greens, often with cannellini beans and maybe some bacon or fat.

The dandelion’s yellow flowers she gathered to make wine.

She picked cardoon, a collard-like green that grew wild in vacant lots.

She boiled it and boiled it and boiled it, until it was safe to eat.

Mariuccia wasted nothing.

Even chicken feed sacks became sheets.

As a child I would sometimes sleep with her.

I saw faded pictures of chickens and letters.

“Grandma look.  There’s chickens on the sheet.”

‘lessand’ gathered coal that had fallen off the locomotives to heat the house.

They always grew tomatoes and cugootsill’, “baseball bat” squash,

To make ciambott’, a thick vegetable stew.

Tripe was often on the menu, unfortunately,

As was baccalà, dried, salted cod, made into a soup with potatoes and prunes.

The best of foods was ciccatiell’, a short pasta of flower and water,

That Grandma rolled with her finger tips into little concave pieces.

Topped with her salsa di pomodoro, nothing could be better.

Coming home from school each day,

And turning the corner from Summit Street to School Street,

I could tell what was cooking from fifty yards away.

At Easter she made pizza chiena, a giant, rustic sort of kische,

Filled with ham, and sausage and cheeses

Covered in dough both bottom and top,

And baked until brown with a shiny egg wash.

I loved it cold as well as hot.

It lasted for days and grew better with age.

Our neighbor, Antonietta, made a different pie,

With wheat and eggs, it tasted somewhat sweet.

We shared our pies and had a drink to celebrate the Feast.

Every year on George Washington’s Birthday, or so said my father,

Grandma made polenta in a big pot on the stove.

She stirred and stirred as corn meal was added slowly.

When it was finished it was soft, not hard like polenta from the north.

We ate it like pancakes with tomato sauce on top.

It really had nothing to do with George Washington,

But rather with the beginning of Lent.

On St. Rocco’s Feast in mid-August, his statue, that had come from Paduli, was paraded through the town.

Ribbons hung from him that the old folks adorned them with cash.

An Italian band from Brooklyn came to play.

They stopped in front of our house and played a mournful song

While Grandma knelt at the upstairs window,

Her arms raised toward heaven praying Gesù mi prende, Jesus take me,

Tears running down her cheeks.

She would not go out to the saint as her own Rocco was very sick

And it would have been wrong to enjoy the parade.

I rushed down the stairs to tell my father

That Grandma was crying by the window.

He raised his eyes toward heaven and called from the bottom of the stairs,

“Ma, Ma, stop it, stop it, you’ll get sick.”

But she only cried the more.

Mariuccia believed that evil spirits were always ready to pounce if you didn’t ward them off,

What many call Mal Occhio, the Evil Eye.

Don’t talk about good fortune,

Don’t act too proud or boast.

As mal occhio will see you.

If someone looks at you askance or wishes evil upon you,

Pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary or St. Rocco to shield you from harm.

Men would hang il cornuto, the horn, from gold chains around their necks,

To ward off all kinds of evil, from mal occhio to cheating wives.

For those unfortunates that became cornudo,

The sign of the cuckold, a forefinger and pinky finger extended

As the hand is twisted back and forth,

Might furtively grace their passing.

Her bedroom was like a temple.

On the bureau a statue of St. Catherine covered in a glass tube,

Gazed out lovingly at crosses and pictures of Jesus and the Holy Family.

Old Mrs. Minicozzi who lived in the apartment on South Street over Herman Bernstein’s store,

Would come to the door selling pictures of Jesus,

Framed in  sparkling blue rhinestones.

“This will protect you and your family from harm.

Who knows what could happen if you don’t have His protection?”

Diamante Principe La Bella, Sandra Lombardi Florio, Mrs. Velingieri and her daughter Jenny,

Would visit Mariuccia and munch on ciambella,

Hard biscotti, dunked into coffee or tea.

They told jokes at the kitchen table,

Compared their operations and the scars.

Talked about husbands and children in detail,

Each one’s story grander than the other’s.

Sometimes they were seized by a devilish mood,

And laughed like teenage girls sharing secrets.

I was washing my hands at the kitchen sink,

They laughed and giggled behind me.

I knew something scandalous was up when they said “Sonny, look at this!”

I knew better than to look around, so I scurried out of the kitchen

With peals of laughter trailing after me.

These gatherings at each other’s homes, and love for their husbands and children,

Were their only sources of joy and rejuvenation.

They also spent much time at the funeral homes, Orlando’s or DeVine’s,

At wakes for their relatives and friends.

Each life gone was one from a special and limited group

Of those who came from the old hometown.

No understudies waited in the wings.

Grandma was love incarnate.

She cared deeply for my sister, Bette, and me,

And took us on her jaunts around town to the houses of her friends.

She fed us in our high chairs, chanting abla ‘occ’, e man’ia,

Open your mouths and eat,

To the mirth of our neighbors nextdoor

Who heard through the open window.

She washed our faces over the kitchen sink,

With harsh brown laundry soap,

Until our faces and necks were red.

We screamed at the time,

But what I wouldn’t give for another scrubbing just like that.

Vieni qua, strunz’ ‘e merde,”

Grandma called us and we hastened to her side.

I won’t tell you what it literally means.

You might get the wrong idea.

Just know that it’s a funny of way telling the children,

I love you.

We’d grab her apron or hug her around the legs,

And she would stroke our heads .

My childhood was filled by her love and care,

And the smell of her apron as I hugged her knees.

Her life was not easy but her will was strong,

Doing her best with what was given.

Every day I think of her,

And see her deep brown eyes,

That shone with the fire of life and love.

Oh how I wish she were here today,

So I could grasp her by the knees,

And smell her apron and feel her hand caressing my hair.

She is alive in my thoughts and in who I am,

And in my sister and who she is.

Thank you, Mariuccia,

Thank you so much,

We were so fortunate that you were our Grandma.

  • Alexander Patrick DeAngelis – 5 October 2015

People: Commendatore Michele Zullo

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Italians of Oyster Bay at Festa di San Rocco - 1931
Italians of Oyster Bay at Festa di San Rocco – 1931

Lo Stemma - Coat  of Arms  Paduli
Lo Stemma – Coat of Arms
Paduli

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Michele Zullo, born in Paduli and settled in Jamaica, Queens, where he established his shoemaking business, was awarded the honorific title of “Commendatore” on October 28, 1949.  If you have read my earlier blogposts you would know that this honor was given to him at the urging of Giovambattista Follo, Abbot of the Church of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle in Paduli, in recognition of his efforts on behalf of the church including providing the Bell and the Organ.

 

The society that awarded him the title is La Reale Casa Normanna  d’Altavilla (The Royal Norman House of Altavilla, or Hauteville in French) that traces its foundation and hereditary rights back to the Hauteville Normans who ruled over Sicily and much of Southern Italy during the 11th and 12th centuries.  Scions of this royal house played large roles in Paduli’s early history.  In theory the Gran Maestro (Grand Master) of the House is the Pretender to the Thrones of Sicily and Naples.  In practice the society acts in ways similar to the Knights of Malta who issue awards and participate in various events related to the Catholic Church.  The title Commendatore is one of several titles under the Order of the Norman Crown.  It is given in recognition of efforts on behalf of the Church.

Michele Zullo standing before his shoe shop
Michele Zullo standing before his shoe shop

ORIGINAL DOCUMENT

Diploma Awarding the title Commendatore to Michele Zullo, October 28, 1949
Diploma Awarding the title Commendatore to Michele Zullo, October 28, 1949

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Insignia of the Order of the Norman Crown of the Royal House of Altavilla
Insignia of the Order of the Norman Crown of the Royal House of Altavilla

Order of the Norman Crown of D’Altavilla

The Grand Master

In recognition of the personal  merits of

Mr. Michele Zullo

Confers upon him the Knightly Title of

Commendatore

According to the rights and privileges sanctioned by law and reserved by hereditary attribution unto the Royal, August and Sovereign Norman House of d’Altavilla according to the Forms of Concession referred to in Private Acts.

From His Residence in Rome, 28 October 1949  (Signature illegible except for surname D’Altavilla)

Order of the Norman Crown of Altavilla

COMMENTS

I believe that a number of other Padulese immigrants received similar diplomas.  I know of one, Felice Minicozzi (di Rocco), who received a diploma awarding him the title Cavaliere, but I do not know whether he received it for his efforts relating to the Plaque and Organ or for some other reason. Felice was a leader among the members of the Oyster Bay Committee for the Plaque and Organ donated in 1949.  He also attended the ceremony of the Blessing of the Bell in Paduli.

People: Rev. Enrico DeVivo of Paduli

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Coat of Arms of Paduli Coat of Arms of Paduli
Italians of Oyster Bay at Festa di San Rocco - 1931 Italians of Oyster Bay at Festa di San Rocco – 1931

A Brief Historical Sketch of the Life and Accomplishments of Reverend Henry De Vivo from Paduli 

Rev. Enrico De Vivo Rev. Enrico De Vivo

Reverend Enrico (Henry) De Vivo  February 25, 1876 – February 19, 1953

Reverend Enrico (Henry) De Vivo was born in Paduli, became a priest and immigrated to the United States where he became pastor and founder of St. Rita’s Church in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. In 1949 he was celebrated with a Golden Jubilee marking fifty years as a priest. Joseph Avella, previously of Long Island City and currently living in Puerto Rico, generously donated the brochure of the Golden Jubilee. I am grateful to him for providing us with this opportunity to remember a noted immigrant from Paduli.

The quoted text in this biographical sketch is from the brochure. I have added a few footnotes and other notes in brackets to aid understanding. I also added the final item on Father De Vivo’s family.

I originally published this in my website, Paduliin-America.net.  I have decided to republish here in order to make it easier for people to access.

Alexander DeAngelis – April 13, 2015

Golden Jubilee Program Brochure in Honor of Father Enrico De Vivo Golden Jubilee Program Brochure in Honor of Father Enrico De VivoReverend Henry De Vivo

“In the land of sunshine and warmth, pastoral beauty and ancient cultures lies the tiny Italian village of Paduli, the birthplace of Father De Vivo. It is situated on the summit of a high hill on the Appian Way near the medieval city of Benevento. The hamlet, surrounded by olive groves, has long been a center of higher learning and the home of pious and learned men. Till this very day [August 1949], Paduli is still honored by the residence of an Abbot[1] and has been fostered and enriched by the famous Cardinal Coscia and the Orsini Cardinals. The abbey church [La Chiesa Madre di San Bartolomeo] prides itself in its distinctive treasures, among which are massive candlesticks of pure gold and several beautiful tapestries which escaped the plundering bands of ancient Saracens.

Father De Vivo was born on February 25, 1876, the third son in a family of four boys and four girls.[2] His father, a textile manufacturer, Luigi De Vivo, and his mother, Emiddia Massimiano De Vivo, wished this son to become a soldier. However, at the age of 12, after having completed his elementary training in Paduli, he chose to enter the ecclesiastical seminary at nearby Benevento where he studied for ten years. His deportment and scholarship won for him a most distinctive award, the gold medal of honor. On August 6, 1899, His Eminence, Donato Cardinal Dell’Olio, Archbishop of Benevento, ordained him to the Holy Priesthood in the cathedral.[3]

Snapshots of Father De Vivo Snapshots of Father De Vivo

On August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, the newly ordained priest celebrated his first solemn high mass in his home parish, in the Church of Saint Bartholomew. The young priest spent the next three years in Naples as an instructor in the College of Nobles and in the Institute of the Barnabite Fathers. Meanwhile, he continued to advance himself in higher classical and literary studies. At the age of 26 [1902], Father De Vivo sailed for America. Upon arrival, he was assigned to St. Patrick’s Cathedral by Cardinal Farley, then Archbishop of New York. Here he served as assistant pastor for five years until his archbishop appointed him as pastor to organize a parish in the Bronx.[4] In less than two years, Father De Vivo built a beautiful Romanesque church and rectory. The newly established parish was completely organized. Although he had many opportunities to distinguish himself further, he humbly chose instead to pursue the missionary field.

During one of Father De Vivo’s missionary engagements in the Pittsburgh area, a fellow priest suggested a visit to Connellsville. He came to Connellsville in December, 1914, and was immediately encouraged by the response of the people as well as by the kindness of the late Reverend John T. Burns, then pastor of the Immaculate Conception Church. Father Burns permitted the enterprising young missionary to use the church basement for celebrating mass. On Christmas Day less than 100 persons attended two masses. However, the zealous priest was determined to proceed with his undertaking. During January he conducted a successful Italian mission. Those attending the mission formed the nucleus of a small congregation which was to assemble regularly for Holy Mass in the church basement during the year that followed.”

St. Rita’s Church

“Meanwhile, the persevering pastor made plans for establishing St. Rita of Cascia parish. In March, 1915, he purchased on South Second Street a plot of ground on which stood a small frame house, which became St. Rita’s first rectory. Shortly after, ground was broken for the church and on October 24 of the same year, Father Burns laid the cornerstone.

Father De Vivo quickly gained the confidence and support of his parishioners as well as the citizenry. A condemned three-story stone and brick school building on Immaculate Conception Church property provided basic material for building the church. Members of the new parish, devoted to their pastor, offered to raze the building which had been donated to Father De Vivo. For six weeks 25 men worked at this task daily without compensation. The new pastor’s enthusiasm won the esteem of the late Bernard O’Connor, a contractor, who loaned two teams of horses and drivers for four weeks to haul the materials. The bricks numbered 74,000. Rimonti Gagliardi, another contractor, followed suit and contributed 480 sacks of cement for the new church structure.

Just as the beautiful European cathedrals were built as community projects where every able-bodied citizen of the vicinity participated in the actual labor, so too, St. Rita’s Church was erected in the very same spirit and with the same enthusiastic cooperation of the parishioners. Practically all of the excavating was done by members of the parish who frequently worked from the time they left their own jobs at the end of the day until two and three o’clock the following morning using the light of lanterns. The women and children also lent their service by scrapping the bricks which were to be used for the inside of the building. Father De Vivo even drafted the unemployed who gladly responded. And so, the new parish, without any financial backing, except a loan of $2,000 and the proceeds of benefit parties, bravely set forth on this venture.

At midnight on Christmas Eve, 1915, Father De Vivo celebrated High Mass in the new but unfinished edifice for the first time. The plastering was still fresh and the church was bare; there were only chairs for the worshippers and six coal stoves, which provided meager heat. But apparently the parishioners preferred to hear the Christmas Midnight Mass in the parish church which they now felt was their very own. Despite the cheesecloth coverings over the window openings, the first Christmas Mass at St. Rita’s was a beginning for what has become a traditionally impressive service and which is now broadcast annually over the local radio station, WCVI.

In 1922 the present platform in front of the Church was erected and the bell tower was added to the Church. Mrs. Frank Maddas, of Jeanette, Pa., donated a new 1500-pound church bell. In January, 1923, the bell was named ‘Laura’ for its donor and was subsequently placed in the tower.”

Father De Vivo with Cardinal Boyle Father De Vivo with Cardinal Boyle

“A citizen of distinction, Rev. Henry De Vivo enjoys life and does not confine his contacts to the parish. In addition to the many routine duties of a parish priest, other enterprises command his attention. He takes time to be active politically and to advise the many friends and associates who seek his counsel. He loves the fine arts, particularly sculpture and architecture. When the opportunity arises, he likes to listen to classical records from his own extensive collection.

A stranger looking for the pastor of St. Rita’s is apt to find him personally supervising a bricklayer on the church property or entertaining a group of friends at a fine Italian dinner. His reputation as a gourmet as well as a perfect host is far famed. A brilliant conversationalist, he delights his guests with his razor wit and his skill at repartee.

When Father De Vivo came to Connellsville, he faced failure and disappointment with a determination to succeed. He built from nothing upon the ruins of the vain attempts made by his nine predecessors. Due to poor management, the Italian Roman Catholic Church and Rectory, built in 1902 on Baldwin Avenue, had been sold at auction in 1912. Nothing remained but humiliation and discouragement. Financial credit and interest in things spiritual were lost. In fact, even and Italian Protestant mission had been started on South Eighth Street.

However, Father De Vivo’s patience, perseverance, and magnetic personality have in a large measure been responsible for welding together the Italian people of this locale. As individuals, the Italians now command the esteem and admiration of their fellow citizens. They are well represented in business and in professions and are much attached to their Church.

Father De Vivo made himself responsible for many Italian born obtaining their American citizenship papers. For a period of over 20 years, the pastor of St. Rita’s has personally accompanied nearly 300 of his parishioners to court for this very purpose.

The Italian government has recognized Father De Vivo’s work among his nationals, and on February 19, 1939, he was named a chevalier. Dr. Nino Calabro, then acting vice-consul of Pittsburgh, represented King Victor Emanuel of Italy and formally presented him with the Cross of the Crown of Italy.

Maddas Hall — St. Rita’s School

“As the number of parishioners increased, parish activities grew. The pastor, with his usual forethought and eagerness to do for his people, saw the need for a recreation hall. In May, 1916, he purchased, at auction for $500, the public school building on North Seventh Street, which was about to be razed. Volunteer labor again came to Father De Vivo’s assistance. Members of the parish became the demolition squad and moved the materials to the church plant to provide the beginnings of the new hall. The building was inaugurated in October, 1916, for the reelection of Judge Van Swearingen. In recognition of the generous benefactor, Frank Maddas, the structure was named Maddas Hall. Until 1925 the building functioned as a social center.”

St. Rita’s Rectory and Garden

“Upon his arrival in Connellsville, Father De Vivo established his first residence with M. J. Roland, proprietor of the West Side Hotel. Here, Father De Vivo remained until July 4, 1915, when he occupied a small house on the newly purchased church property. Later this house was torn down and a new rectory was built. In 1922 the rectory was enlarged. Now the building is St. Rita’s Convent, providing adequate housing for the Sisters Zelatrices of the Sacred Heart, who comprise the teaching staff of St. Rita’s elementary School. A new rectory was essential. Through the efforts of Mayor John Duggan, Father De Vivo was able to purchase a house and lot adjoining the church property. The house was enlarged and remodeled to become the present rectory. It was made ready for occupancy in 1926.”

Play Ball! Play Ball!

The De Vivo Family

Although the name De Vivo appears prominently in the histories of Paduli, it seems that there are no De Vivos left in Paduli today.

Father Enrico De Vivo was one of 8 children, 4 boys and 4 girls, of Emiddia Massimiano and   Luigi De Vivo.   It appears that most of his family, if not all, followed him to the United States. His sisters’ names were Clementina, Elisa, and Vincenza, and Carmela, all of whom are included in the list of Padulesi who came to America (www.paduli-in-america.net). Father De Vivo’s mother, Emiddia Massimiano, arrived in the United States on the S.S. Re D’Italia in November 1913, together with her youngest daughter Carmela De Vivo. Emiddia was approximately 64 years old at the time and Carmela was probably 22. Emiddia listed their destination as “son Enrico De Vivo, 923 Tinton Ave., NY.” Emiddia’s name is listed as “Emiddia De Vivo” on the Bronze Plaque that resides in the Church of St. Bartholomew in Paduli. Carmela’s name also appears on the Bronze Plaque.   Both had never been to the United States prior to this arrival.

Clementina, Elisa and Vincenza arrived together nine years earlier on the S.S. Prinz Adelbert on August 11, 1904. They listed their destination as “brother Enrico, 344 Nash (?) St., NY. They too had never been in the United States prior to this voyage. Clementina was 30. Elisa was 26. Vincenza was 22.

Father DeVivo’s three brothers are harder to trace. In the list of Padulesi who came to the United States there are 8 males with the surname De Vivo in addition to Enrico. These are Antonio, Francesco, Giovanni, Giuseppe, Michele, Luigi, Rocco, and Vincenzo.   All that I know about Antonio, Giovanni and Giuseppe at this time is that their names are on the Bronze Plaque in the Church of San Bartolomeo in Paduli. Francesco and Rocco were brothers. Luigi bears the same name as Reverend De Vivo’s father. I conjecture that Luigi may have been the oldest of the four De Vivo brothers.

Father De Vivo returned to Paduli in 1950 to participate in the dedication of the bell donated by a group of Padulesi immigrants in the United States to the Church of San Bartolomeo.  I think that he probably returned many more times.

FINAL RESTING PLACE

Father Enrico (Henry) De Vivo died on February 19, 1953 at the age of 77.  He is buried in St. Rita’s Cemetery, Connellsville, Pennsylvania.

De Vivo grave 1De Vivo grave 2

[1] At the time of the Jubilee for Father De Vivo (1949), and for many years thereafter, the Abbot of the Church of San Bartolomeo in Paduli was Father Giovambattista Follo. In a letter written in 1949 to Michele Zullo, an immigrant from Paduli living in the United States, Father Follo referred to Father Enrico De Vivo as his “nipote” or nephew.

[2] Father De Vivo was still alive in 1953, but I do not know when he died.

[3] The Golden Jubilee brochure states that the Cathedral was bombed to the ground in World War II by U.S. forces but that plans existed in 1949 to rebuild the cathedral at a projected cost of 29 billion lire and that Father De Vivo had made a contribution in response to an appeal to all former seminarians. The rebuilt cathedral stands today in Benevento.

[4] The name of this church/parish is not identified in the Golden Jubilee brochure.