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TRADITIONS, HERITAGE AND CULTURE AT THE GMM

Often described at the “Jewel of the Order,” the Garibaldi Meucci Museum, owned and administered by the OSDIA since 1919 stood tall on Tuesday, March 19, 2024.  A capacity crowd of some 50+ guests attended an event entitled “La Tavola di San Giuseppe” or a tribute to St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church and who is celebrated in Italy each year on that March 19th date as Father’s Day.  The 1843 home of Antonio and Esterre Meucci was filled to the brim.  And so in one ceremony and event, the GMM representing all of the members of the OSDIA enacted a role in promoting tradition, heritage and culture.  Led in prayer by the Rev. Carlos Limongo, pastor of the local Church of St. Joseph, attendees offered their thoughts silently as the “table” was blessed with its assortment of decorations.

The tradition of presenting “Una Tavola,” this goes back many centuries when Italy suffered one of its historic droughts.  People prayed for rain and after much time and sufferings, the rains did come, and the People of God promised as with many a miracle never to forget.  And so annually on the Feast of St. Joseph, such tables were decorated with the statue of St. Joseph at the helm, and surrounded at times with smaller statuettes of other saints, and then lilies symbolic of the purity of the life of St. Joseph.  Depending on the largess of the area for the setups, tables had several tiers with many additional decorations of breads, fava beans symbolic of the food of the times, sawdust (breadcrumbs) and hammers reminding all of the work of the carpenter Joseph, candles symbolic of the Light – Jesus, oranges and lemons, artichokes, all pointing to the foods of the land and, of course, breads and desserts.  The breads were always in the shape of the memories of St. Joseph – the cross, the crown that Jesus wore and the cane all in pictures and photos that go back many centuries.  Families were always a part of the ceremonies with three selected to be Mary, Jesus and Joseph to be seated at the head table and as well inviting in some people in the community of financial needs.  Here lies the tradition…centuries later and being reenact by the staff and members of the Board of the GMM.  Special thanks go to the day’s coordinators: staff members Fran Cicero, AnnMarie Cicero and #1 volunteer Carol Berardi.

What was so important in my opinion is that on Staten Island, New York on March 19th, it was in the eyes and ears of the attendees, for one could see and hear many of them recollect that their past had included such celebrations as families in recognizing this famed day.  And following the introduction of the event, a GMM supporter Lou Barella offered a video on the various festivals in honor of St. Joseph, especially in Sicily which was appreciated by all attendees in the both gallery rooms of the GMM.

Following the welcome, blessing and video, the foods were there at the “table” for all to enjoy, which included the traditional appetizers of cheeses, salamis, olives and breads, not to mention the desserts, cookies galore and the famed zeppole and/or sfingi with some saying “Viva San Giuseppe.”  Conversation abounded and few left before capturing a glass of wine that was named San Giuseppe Pinot Grigio or a good cup of coffee!  And so where was the espresso?  “Next time” we all said.

As people began to leave the historic home, there was a feeling that something good had happened on March 19th at Staten Island for so many commented in appreciation by reawakening a bit of their past with such a tradition, grounded in heritage and promoted as a piece of their respective culture.  Most of all, people stated that the OSDIA – the Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, who have carried this celebration, were doing good to which end my only reply was: “Continue to help and support our Garibaldi Meucci Museum…a treasured past that is alive and well, but always needs the support of all.”  And I added: “Make sure you keep a fava bean in your pocket for good luck.”

GARIBALDI MEUCCI MUSEUM - A GIFT AND A RESPONSIBILITY

By Comm. Joseph Sciame

March 2024

Welcome to the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum (GMM) , a national treasure of the Sons of Italy Foundation(SIF) and the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America (OSDIA). It is where long ago a remarkable inventor, Antonio Santi Giuseppe Meucci, the true inventor of the telephone, and his beloved wife, Esterre Mochi Meucci resided for a time, until their passing. It is also where they gave refuge, during a period of exile in the early 1850s, to The Hero of Two Worlds, Giuseppe Maria Garibaldi.

 

Today, the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum is an Italian-American cultural learning center with a mission to espouse the best aspects of Italian and Italian-American heritage and culture, as represented by its educational, cultural and artistic programs, which are geared toward the eradication of ethnic and racial prejudice, with appreciation and acknowledgement of the virtues of a multicultural society.

 

Please give your most attentive consideration to give generously in support to this unique non-profit cultural institution. Your support will, in large part, ensure its perpetuity for generations to come.

 

Feel free to contact me with any questions and/or concerns.

 

Sincerely,

Carl J. Ciaccio

Chairman of the Board

Feb 2023

Mensaje del presidente

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