August 2, 1922: The Band Played, the People Sang and Mass was celebrated.

by LuAnn Roberto

One of the best things about working on the San Antonio 100th year anniversary events is reading some of the history! This piece was written and published at the Tenth Year Anniversary in 1922. I learned a few new words like “oscensorium” and that Sacro Cuore Church is Sacred Heart Church. You will recognize some of the names, which I think is my favorite part.

Enjoy the read!

From the “SILVER JUBILEE OF THE SANTA MARIA INSTITUTE (1897-1922).” we cull the following account of the beginnings of our parish:

A colony of Italians is located in Fairmount. Soon after the foundation of the Santa Maria, the Sisters visited the place and recognized the necessity of doing something to attract the Italians to the practice of their religion.
In co-operation with the Franciscan Fathers, a sewing class for girls was opened in one of their school rooms.
A catechetical class was organized for children not attending St. Bonaventura School. These accomplished some good, but, for important reasons, they could not be continued.

Rev. J.B. Balangero, pastor of the Sacro Cuore Church, was invited to say Mass in St. Bonaventura Church and administer the sacraments to his fellow-countrymen; only a few Italians took advantage of the privilege.

When these efforts failed to accomplish the desired objective, the Sisters continued visiting the homes, praying and hoping for means to establish a permanent welfare center.

In the early part of 1922 a donation of $3,400 was received for children’s welfare work. The Sisters decided to use the money for the Fairmount children, estimated in number at two hundred. The intention was to rent a few rooms, open a welfare center, using the donation for its support, but no suitable place could be found for rent. 1946 Queen City Avenue was for sale. As it was admirably suited for the purpose, the Sisters purchased it with the donations on hand, trusting to Divine Providence to send means for the support of the intended Welfare Center.

As soon as this work was known, friends began to send donations. Sister Dominica, S. N. D., in charge of the Tabernacle Society, sent vestments and other articles for the alter, including a beautiful chalice in memory of Miss Amelia Wharum. Rev. Wm. Anthony, Owensville, sent  the altar; Rcv. J. H. Shcngbcr donated a number of articles;

Mt. St. Joseph, Mother House, a beautiful oscensorium; Rev. A. Brockhuis, O.F.M., St. Anthony Shrine; Rev. Timothy Bailey, several useful articles; Miss Mary Metz; benches to seat about one hundred and fifty persons; Mrs. Mastropaolo, Adoring Angels. Other friends made special offerings.

On the Sixth of August, 1922, the St. Anthony Welfare Center was opened with the celebration .of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, by Rev. Antonio Bainotti, assistant pastor of the Sacra Cuore Church. About two hundred Italians assisted at the Holy Sacrifice with the greatest reverence and devotion.

Rev. Father Bainotci preached an eloquent sermon. The Santa Maria girls sang the popular Italian hymns in which many of the congregation joined. It was an inspiring sight to see the revival of the latent faith of the people. Benediction was given after Mass. Mrs. Manuel Cueto presided at the organ. Master Carlo Mastropaolo accompanied with the violin. As there were not enough benches, many people brought their own chairs.

After Mass about forty persons remained for choir practice. In a short time they will all join in congregational singing.

The people showed their lively gratitude in having a place of worship of their own, as many of the older people do not understand English, consequently did not approach the sacraments.

Unsolicited, the Italians took up a collection among themselves and purchased one hundred chairs, statues, carpets and many other articles. The men came every evening after their day’s labor to level the playground, paint walls and woodwork and do all the work necessary.

On Tuesday, August 10th, the sewing classes were opened in charge of Mrs. Sullivan, her sister, Miss Nellie Sturla, and Mrs. George Shays. Fifty girls enrolled in the morning class. The mothers met in the afternoon.

On the Twelfth of August, the men called a meeting. Thirty-two men responded. They organized themselves into the St. Anthony Society.

The members expressed their desire to take part in the next Holy Name parade. On the Eighth of October, sixty-four men represented St. Anthony Welfare Center in the Holy Name Parade! Now there are sixty-nine.

On the Eighth of October, the formal opening of the Welfare Center took place. The large hall used as a chapel made a fine appearance. The alter was a profusion of flowers, candles and electric lights. The statues of the Sacred Heart and St. Anthony occupied conspicuous places, whilst the beautiful adoring angels stood near the tabernacle.

Rev. Antonio Bainotti celebrated the Mass. The chapel was crowded by the Italians of the neighborhood. The Knights of St. John, Covington, composed of Italian young men, manifested their interest by generously giving the service of their band and by receiving Holy Communion in a body.

At half past nine o’clock, the Italian residents, headed by the band and banner bearers, escorted His Grace, the Most Reverend Archbishop, from St. Bonaventura Church to St. Anthony Welfare Center. Queen City Avenue presented a picturesque scene. On arrival at the Center the assembled multitude joined in the popular hymn, “Noi Vogliam Dio.” At its conclusion, His Grace addressed the people and expressed his pleasure at the generous co-operation which manifested their love of the Faith of their fathers bequeathed to. them by the Apostles. Benediction wich che Blessed Sacrament followed, and a hymn of Thanksgiving, in which all joined, completed the impressive ceremony.

In the afternoon an entertainment was given exclusively for the children, arid the hall was nearly filled by them. An entertainer for adults was given in the evening. Miss Anne Maele’s splendid rendition of “Il Trovatore” captivated the audience. Renaco Lombardi sang “Spiricu Gentile” and “Notcurno d’ Amore,” and his magnificent voice elicited encore after encore. Carlo lvfasrropaolo and Miss Alma Cassenelli fairly made the violins sing. Miss Ankenbrock gave a humorous reading which convulsed the audience with laughter.

Miss Severia Contadino sang “Addio Mia Bella Napoli”, which was greeted by great applause.

Rose Contadino and Miss Alice Hamad added pleasure with their beautiful selections.

In the “Unburied Woman” the Misses Angela and Rose Distefano, Miss Greco and Miss Vicario acted their parts to perfection, and in the charming playlet, “The Princess Who Hid Her Shoes”’ the Misses Antoinette and Brigita Schiavo and Miss Virginia Guerrera, in their royal costumes, performed their parts in truly royal manner.

The Missus Antoinette Vicario and F. Marchesano delivered humorous recitations in a very laughable manner. The singing of America, in which all joined proved their loyalty to their adopted country, and this ended a joyous day for the Italian Colony at Fairmount.

The Alumni of Mt. St. Vincent Academy, Cedar Grove and Mt. Saint Joseph Academy, Delhi, have taken St. Anthony Center as their special work of benevolence. The Mesdames Joseph Sturla, Louise Sullivan Shays, the Missus Nellie Sturla, Emma Nassano and Mildred Sullivan are generously devoting their time and their talent to the upbuilding of this Welfare Center.

As Rev. A. Bainotti found it impossible to continue saying Mass at St. Anthony Welfare Center, owing to his other parochial duties, the Rev. A. Ruffing, S. J. celebrated Mass there on Sundays and holidays till the return of the pastor, Rev. J.B. Chiotti, who now officiates.

The above quotation was written towards the end of 1922. It seems that Father Chiotti continued to give divine services until the summer of 1923 when Father Francis Bredestege was given charge of the church. At the end of summer 1924, he was succeeded by Father Dean McFarland, who in the fall of 1925, gave way to Monsignore Giles Allais. Divine services were held ordinarily only on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation. With the advent of Father Vincent Graglia in the summer of 1926, who resided in St. Francis Hospital, services were held every day, Father Gragtia having been sent to work among the Italians of Dayton, Ohio, Father Bredestege  supplied his -place for about two months, when in the summer of 1928, the Most Reverend Archbishop John T. McNicholas placed the parish in charge of the Cincinnati Franciscan Fathers, whose Church of St. Bonaventura is but seven minutes’ walk distant from St. Antonio’s.

A Franciscan Father for the first time functioned in the church on Sunday, September 9th, of this year in place of Father Claude Mindorff, O.F.M., the appointed  pastor, who, however, for weighty reasons could not take over the position permanently, and at the beginning of October, 1928, Father Dennis Engelhard, O.F.M., was appointed pastor.

In 1928 the Committee of Lay Advisers consisted of the following: Anthony Palmire, who served as the efficient treasurer since the beginning of the parish until April, 1931; Joseph Guerrera, Antonino Cupito, Lorenzo Panaro and Paul Wilke. In April, 1931, the following new Board of Lay Advisers was selected: Vito Gramaglia, Michael Scorzello and Dominic DiStefano, secretary. Thanks are due for past generous efforts of the  Men’s Society, which, however, of late has not functioned well. The St.Ann Married Ladies’ Society is doing good work with the following officers: Mrs. Paul Wilke, president; Mrs. Teresa D’ Angelo, secretary, and Mrs. Vincent Deluco, treasurer.

Jacob Wilhelm is working hard to round up the boys in the Catholic Boys Brigade and Blessed Virgin Sodality.


We look forward to seeing, meeting and celebrating with all of you throughout this important 100th year!

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