WELCOME TO THE HOLY ROSARY CHURCH ITALIAN STREET FESTIVAL AND THE DEDICATION CEREMONY OF THE HISTORICAL MARKER WHICH IDENTIFIES THIS NEIGBORHOOD AS THE ITALIAN NEIGHBORHOOD OF INDIANAPOLIS.    

 

ON BEHALF OF THE ITALIAN HERITAGE SOCIETY OF INDIANA, AND THE ITALIAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY OF INDIANA, I WOULD LIKE TO THANK GOVERNOR AND MRS. O’BANNON, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY MAYOR O’CONNOR, CITY-COUNTY COUNCILMAN FRANK SHORT AND ALL OF OUR DISTINGUISHED GUEST FOR BEING WITH US THIS EVENING.  THE ITALIAN HERITAGE SOCIETY OF INDIANA WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1993 AS AN OFFSPRING OF THE COLUMBUS QUINCENTENARY CELEBRATION OF 1992.  TODAY OUR MEMBERSHIP INCLUDES ITALIANS THROUGHOUT THE STATE OF INDIANA.  OUR SOCIETY SEEKS TO PRESERVE, PROMOTE, AND SHARE ITALIAN VALUES AND CULTLURE, WHICH ITS MEMBERS INHERITED FROM THEIR ANCESTORS:  RELIGION, FAMILY, HISTORY, ART, MUSIC, FOOD AND COMRADERIE.  WE REACH OUT TO EVERYONE OF ITALIAN ANCESTRY AND WELCOME OTHERS WHO SHARE OUR APPRECIATION OF THE ITALIAN CULTURE.  OUR MEMBERS PARTICIPATE IN MANY EVENTS TO INCLUDE HOLY ROSARY’S ITALIAN STREET FESTIVAL, WHICH WE WILL BE ENJOYING LATER TONIGHT.  EACH YEAR OUR ORGANIZATION AWARDS COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS TO ITALIAN-AMERICAN YOUTH, OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS TWELVE SCHOLARSHIPS WERE AWARDED.  MOST OF OUR SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS ATTEND COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES IN OUR GREAT STATE.  WE ALSO SPONSOR NUMEROUS OTHER EVENTS, SUCH AS THE ANNUAL ROSARY, MASS AND PICNIC AT “OUR LADY’S CHAPEL IN THE MEADOW” BUILT BY ITALIAN PRISONERS OF WAR AT CAMP ATTERBURY DURING WORLD WAR II. DESPITE TWO ATTACKS BY AN ARSONIST LAST YEAR, OUR  CHAPEL IS BEING REBUILT AND OUR 11TH ANNUAL EVENT WILL TAKE PLACE ON JULY 30TH.

ITALIANS HAVE BEEN PRESENT IN INDIANA SINCE THE FIRST EUROPEANS ARRIVED HERE.  THE FRENCH EXPLORER LaSalle CAMPED NEAR THE PRESENT SITE OF SOUTH BEND IN 1679.  ONE OF HIS PARTY WAS Enrico Tonti, WHO WOULD ASSIST LaSalle IN DEVELOPING THE FUR TRADE AND BUILDING FORTS IN THE MIDWEST.

AFTER Tonti CAME Francesco Vigo, MERCHANT AND BANKER IN VINCENNES.  HE PROVISIONED THE SOLDIERS OF George Rogers Clark, WHO CAPTURED FORT SACKVILLE OF VINCENNES FROM THE BRITISH DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

IN THE EARLY 1800’S FATHER Joseph Rosati MINISTERED TO THE SPIRITUAL NEEDS OF CATHOLICS IN SOUTHWESTERN INDIANA.  HE LATER BECAME THE FIRST BISHOP OF ST. LOUIS.

IN THE LATE 1800’S Luigi Gregori TAUGHT ART AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTE DAME.  HE PAINTED THE COLUMBUS MURALS IN THE ADMINISTRATION BUILDING.  HE WAS ALSO THE RELIGIOUS ARTIST IN THE BASILICA OF THE SACRED HEART.

EXCEPT FOR Tonti, Vigo, Rosati, AND Gregori, ITALIAN IMMIGRANTS SETTLED IN INDIANA FOR THE MOST PART AFTER 1890.  THEY WERE COAL MINERS IN DIAMOND AND CLINTON, AND TRUCK FARMERS AROUND NORTH JUDSON.  THEY FOUND RAILROAD JOBS IN ELKART, LOGANSPORT, AND RICHMOND.  AS LIMESTONE QUARRY WORKERS THEY LOCATED IN BEDFORD.  AVAILABLE WORK IN MILLS AND FACTORIES ATTRACTED THEM TO EAST CHICAGO, GARY, SOUTH BEND, MISHAWAKA, AND FORT WAYNE.  THEY SOLD FRUITS, VEGETABLES, AND ICE CREAM IN EVANSVILLE AND INDIANAPOLIS. 

HOLY ROSARY CATHOLIC CHURCH WAS BUILT BETWEEN 1923 AND 1925 TO SERVE A PARISH ORGANIZED FOR THE CITY’S ITALIAN RESIDENTS IN 1909.  HOLY ROSARY WAS THE FIRST AND IS THE ONLY REMAINING ITALIAN NATIONAL PARISH OF THE FOUR FOUNDED IN INDIANA.  MANY OF ITS PARISHIONERS HAILED FROM TERMINI IMERESE, PROVINCE OF PALERMO, WHICH WAS ALSO THE BIRTHPLACE OF MY GRANDFATHER. THEY WERE ENGAGED IN THE PRODUCE BUSINESS.  EVERYWHERE ONE COULD FIND AN ITALIAN BARBER, TAILOR, GROCER, OR SHOEMAKER.

BESIDES THESE TRADITIONAL FAMILIES, AFTER WORLD WAR II THE ITALIAN COMMUNITY WAS ENRICHED BY A MANAGERIAL ELEMENT, TRANSFERRED BY THEIR COMPANIES INTO THE STATE.  INCLUDED WERE PROFESSIONALS IN MEDICINE, LAW AND EDUCATION.  ALSO INCLUDED WERE WAR BRIDES AND IMMIGRANTS WHO PURSUED MIDDLE CLASS OCCUPATIONS.

NO MATTER WHERE THEY ORIGINATED IN ITALY OR WHEN THEY ARRIVED IN INDIANA, THESE RESIDENTS ARE EQUALLY PROUD OF THEIR ITALIAN HERITAGE AND THE UNITED STATES.  THAT IS WHY THE ITALIAN-AMERICANS FORMED THE ITALIAN HERITAGE SOCIETY OF INDIANA IN 1993.

 

TONIGHT AS PRESIDENT OF THIS SOCIETY AND THE SON OF AN ITALIAN IMMIGRANT WHO LIKE MANY OTHER CAME THROUGH ELLIS ISLAND, IT GIVES ME GREAT HONOR TO REPRESENT OUT ITALIAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY AT THIS DEDICATION CEREMONY.