February 21 2017
Letter: The Past and Future of Burlington's Sons of Italy
The following is a Letter to the Editor:
Having danced into the New Year, much like a sailor high up in the rigging of the Sancta Maria somewhat frenetically searching for land, we of our Lodge can begin to see the soft outline of 2020, the half century mark of our existence in Burlington. A cursory study indicates that we are one of the oldest fraternal organizations bowing only to the veteran organizations and the K of C. 1970, our founding date is distant in today’s fast-paced world. Recently, the immediate goal of 2020, has been severely hampered by an over extended presidency, age of members and a concomitant rash of illness.
However, a much younger replacement of the presidency as well as a whiff of new younger members has revived us and 2020 is clearly in sight. Who are we and what have we accomplished lo these forty-six (46) plus years? Beyond age what social and cultural effects has our Lodge felt through the years?
The Supreme Lodge of the Sons of Italy (national) in conjunction with the Grand Lodge (state) approved a charter for the Burlington Lodge #2224 on June 16, 1970. Ninety-two Italian-American individuals immediately became members. By 1975 the membership had grown to one-hundred seventy-four. Through the 80s the membership continued modest growth adding membership from outside of Burlington, since most Italian-American families in Burlington were now members.
Throughout the 70s and 80s many Italian-Americans filled prominent positions in local government as well as in local and area businesses. Those of that era may recall Roberto, Valente, Russo, Todaro, Zervas, Bertolami, Brancato, Castraberti, Cenci, Consolazio, LaMarca, Fusco, limoncelli, Modica, Marrocco, and many more.
The Lodge was always rife with activity. We maintained a social, charitable as well as a monthly in-house agenda in addition to fund raising through the years. Formal dinner dances, a six year plus culture series with prominent speakers from academia, installation and religious functions, impromptu pizza and video evenings, Grand Lodge functions, mystery rides and recently wine tasting. Breakfasts, pasta dinners, and participation in a yearly town celebration helped raise needed funds. In addition to Lodge charities, often to assist veterans or needy families, the Lodge donated yearly to a slate of national charities supported by local lodges under the aegis of the Grand Lodge.
Considered a “frontier town”, Burlington attracted many young newlyweds. In the 70s and early 80s the Lodge grew. By the late 80s and early 90s with young children and a somewhat recessive economy both parents sought employment and membership began to decline.
A core of older members whose families had sought other shores, began to age and found reduced activity needed. However, there remained a very active group who pursued a very active agenda which continues today. Some of those current stalwarts the reader will recognize: Berardi, Dardeno, DiTucci, Saia,Lombardo, Moreno, D’Alleva, Mastracci, Frango, Schepelitti, Russo, Reale, Scanio, Fernandez, , Magliozzi and many more.
In very large measure, in spite of a now senior Lodge, much credit is to be assigned to our current President, our longest running president who has inspired, cajoled and begged the membership to group activity and involvement. Mr. McGowan, an inspired and dedicated Irishman (with an Italian heart) continues to guide the membership.
As stated, a new president is about to be installed. He can lead us to that anticipated half-century goal. As with any new president, enhanced and creative activities are anticipated as well as mandatory procedures mandated by our Grand Lodge.
In a world that has wrought new discoveries, new responses to issues, a preponderance of changing IT, a creeping globalism, our regenerated Lodge will continue to function and continue to celebrate our Italian culture. New leadership, new ideas along with old celebrations are to be anticipated. The Lodge offers something for all adults. Come join us any third Tuesday of the month for friendship or membership, if you dare.
Some interesting facts about the Sons of Italy
The Supreme Lodge was founded in 1905
The Grand Lodge was founded in 1914
There are about 70 lodges across Massachusetts
Our President was recently honored by the Pirandello Society for outstanding contribution to the Italian-American community
Tewksbury is the most recent town to establish a lodge
Supreme Court Justice A. Scalia was an honorary member
Every October a grand ceremony takes place at the State House to kick off the Columbus celebration
Almost every state has lodges, most many lodges.
On January 16, 1995 the Lodge funded the Burlington High School Scholarship Fund with $12, 500 with $1000.00 awards to be given yearly.
In 2014, Mr. & Mrs. McGowan instituted another scholarship to be awarded yearly at the High School
The Lodge meets every third Tuesday at the COA.
President, Burlington Sons of Italy Lodge #2224