News from San Antonio Church – Dec. 12, 2021

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Weekly Bulletin December 12, 2021

by Terrie Evans

During the month of December, we will introduce 3 more South Fairmount Families from the early years of San Antonio Church. The first family group will be the Sebastiano LaRosa (1873-1959) and Angela Frescione (1873-1940) their children, Maria LaRosa Munafo (1897-1956), Frieda LaRosa Manocchi (1900-1968), Elizabeth Coletta LaRosa Berger (1904-2011), Louis P. LaRosa (1905-1960), Anthony LaRosa (1909-1993), Carmelo LaRosa (1911-1920), and Anna LaRosa (1914-1976).

Sebastiano and Angela were born in Reggio, Calabria, the largest and oldest city in Calabria, Italy.  They journeyed from Palermo on the SS Anna in 1905 through New York on their way to Cincinnati. Three years after their arrival, an earthquake and a 30-foot Tsunami hit Messina and the surrounding area in 1908 killing 25,000 residents and some of their family members.  In the 1940 census, the Sebastiano LaRosa Family was listed at 2110 Freeman Ave. when Sebastiano worked as a Produce Merchant. Their oldest daughter Maria LaRosa Munafo (1897-1956) would marry Placido Munafo (1889-1973) and their daughter Angela Frances Munafo Denicola (1923-2007) was the mother of our parishioner, Al Denicola.  Another Denicola family member belonging to San Antonio Church was the late Carmella Marie (Denicola) Rosiello (1929-2017), the mother of Tony Rosiello.  Sabastiano and Angela’s oldest son and brother of Anthony, Louis P. LaRosa (1905-1960) wed Jeanette Magazzu (1906-1975) sons Joseph LaRosa (1946-1982), and Sebastian John LaRosa (1927-2014), daughters Angela LaRosa Hall (1930-2014), and Rose LaRosa Zehnder (1934-2010).  They lived at the original homestead at 2084 Queen City and were members of San Antonio Church up until the death of Sebastian John in 2014.

            Sebastiano and Angela’s son, Anthony T. LaRosa (1909-1993) became a professional boxer by the early 1920’s and by 1926, won a regional lightweight boxing title. After marrying   Mary Helena Panaro, he joined the family’s wholesale produce business. Their only son, Sebastian Donald “Buddy” LaRosa was born on August 25, 1930, when they lived on Fairmount Avenue. In the 1930’s the Depression hit, and their marriage fell apart. Buddy and his mother Mary moved back to the Panaro homestead at 1998 Queen City Avenue where they shared the two-story home with Buddy’s grandparents Josephine and Lorenzo and Uncles Bill, Larry, Tony, and Frank Panaro.  While living at 1998 Queen City Avenue, Buddy attended Roger Bacon High School and worked with mom Mary and Uncle Bill on Saturdays at Uncle Larry Panaro’s Fruit Market in Hartwell where he learned everything about the produce business. 

During those years living in Little Italy, Buddy will always remember how he got the inspiration for a Pizzeria by watching his Grandmother Panaro and Aunt Dena make their delicious sheet pizzas and going to the San Antonio Church Festivals where those Ladies of the Lot Pizzas were the big draw.  In the 1940’s and 1950’s Anthony LaRosa was also working in the Fruit Business and   had six more children before passing away at the age of 84 years old in 1993.  During his high school years, Sebastian Donald “Buddy” LaRosa became friends with Jo Ann Augustine “Jo Jo” who would visit her grandparents at the Minella home at 1986 Queen City Avenue with her mom, Ann Minella Augustine. They became a couple when Buddy was crowned Prom King at Roger Bacon with his date, Jo Ann Augustine. They were a true South Fairmount love story when on the July 4th weekend in 1952, they married at San Antonio Church with Ralph Minella as best man and Dorothy “Dottie” Macaluso as the maid of honor. They celebrated 59 years of marriage before Jo Ann “Jo Jo” passed away in 2011. During their marriage, they welcomed four children.  Denise, who wed Joe Ciambarella – daughters Nicole and the late Jenna Ciambarella Spell; oldest son, Michael wed Mary Beth Odell – sons Nick and Ryan, wed 2nd , Lisa Voss’s – daughters Olivia and Erika; Mark who wed his high school sweetheart, Cara Robb at San Antonio Church – daughters Christina and Marissa; and youngest Tommy who wed Maria D’Andrea on Valentine’s Day in 1992 children – Maria, Sebastian, Josephine, Angelina, and Angelo.  San Antonio parishioners will never forget the dedication of the many generations of the LaRosa family throughout the history of San Antonio Church.

When the church was first established in 1922, the LaRosa family purchased Angel statues to grace the altar for our first temporary church. They have donated countless items for every Fundraiser, Spaghetti Dinner, Lunch on the House, and Pizza Events. When the church was showing signs of disrepair and on a downward spiral, Buddy LaRosa enlisted Pete Langenbrunner, Dick Linnemann, Pat Romelli, Will Feldman, and Joseph Seta to revive the building and the spirit within our church. These men designed and built the new Marque Sign and were there with us until the last brick was laid for our biggest fundraiser, the Brick Memorial Garden in 2007 for the dedication, on our 85th Anniversary. There is no possible way we could have accomplished all these tasks without all of you, as we look forward to our 100th anniversary in 2022. The LaRosa family moved away from the neighborhood many years ago, but never left San Antonio Church behind.

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