Saint Joseph Society

About the Society:

The Saint Joseph Society was officially incorporated on December 7th, 1915 by Italian immigrants from various towns in Sicily. These men were devoted to Saint Joseph. There mission was to have a place of worship in honor of their patron saint to be located in Lodi, New Jersey.

Society

The founding fathers worked together to help build the First Saint Joseph Church in 1917. Each member took out a personal loan to help contribute financially to make their dreams become real. The other amazing thing the members did was that they themselves did the actual work in building the first Saint Joseph’s Church. As Saint Joseph was a carpenter during his life on earth, those men played the role of Saint Joseph in helping to construct their house of worship.

In addition to having a house of worship, the society wanted to honor their patron saint in a special way. March 19th is the feast day of Saint Joseph. The society started the tradition here in Lodi, (which was originally founded back home in Sicily) of giving out the “pane di San Giuseppe” (Bread in honor of Saint Joseph) on his Feast day. Being March 19th fall’s during the work week most of the time, the society decided it would distribute bread to all parishioners at every mass the weekend closest to March 19th. This tradition still exists today.

Another tradition founded back in Sicily to celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Joseph is “La Tavolata di San Giuseppe” (Saint Joseph sharing table). This tradition was started by the society and later throughout the years passed onto the church to run this event. However, once again in 2008 the Society is hosting this event and looks forward to doing so for many years to come. These were great traditions brought here to America from the old country. However, the members were still not satisfied in just celebrating these two events. They wanted a procession in honor of Saint Joseph and a Feast. Being March is still cold, they looked to September which is warm and celebrates Labor Day. This is a national holiday here in the United States, but the founding fathers had other thoughts. Labor Day is a holiday for all workers. The Italians decided that what better holiday that models the life of Saint Joseph being he was a laborer to host a Feast. So, the idea was born to host a Feast in honor of Saint Joseph during Labor Day Weekend. The Feast activities were to include, rides, games, Italian food specialties and nightly entertainment. The highlight of the Feast would be the procession which would be held on Labor Day in the afternoon followed by a benediction. Ninety three years later, this is still the case. Although the town has changed in that there are now many different ethnic groups, it is still a large success and well known event in Northern New Jersey.

As part of spreading the word about the Saint Joseph Feast, in the early spring months the members of the society would go house to house in Lodi in asking for donations for the upcoming Feast in September. This tradition lasted until the 1980’s. The other word of mouth advertisement was that during the Feast on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning, the society accompanied by the Italian Feast band would split out into three groups covering a majority of the streets in Lodi and surrounding towns such as Garfield and Hasbrouck Heights. Each group would go out with a “stenardo” (banner) of Saint Joseph so people can pin money on the flag. Each door bell at every house would be rung and the band would play favorite songs such as “Mamma”, “Oh Marie”, “Santa Lucia” and etc. This tradition is still alive today.

The Saint Joseph society was once a strong group of having close to 100 members during the 1940’s to the 1960’s. However, as time passed on, so did many of the members pass on to their life in Heaven. During the early years, everything was conducted in the Italian language. This held true until the 1970’s at which point it started to change over to English. In addition to how the changes in meetings were conducted, so was the decision made to hand over the majority of the Feast responsibility to the church. Being the membership had rapidly decreased, it would be impossible for the society to run the Feast alone. So the responsibilities of hiring the rides, games, and food would be the church’s responsibility. The entertainment would be the society’s in addition to the traditions of collections during the Feast weekend and procession. This is still the case today.

Society

As we look at the present and future, we pray that through the intercession of Saint Joseph that we will once again become a strong group of members. Today our society consist of 30+ members. The meeting is conducted in both English and Italian to accommodate all members. It is difficult in being able to try to run events such as a society dinner dance, picnic, or other activities without more members. However, we do participate in processions of other local societies such as: Immaculate Conception of Lodi, Saint Anthony of Garfield, Sacred Heart of Garfield, San Pio of Garfield, San Ciro of Garfield, San Pio of Hackensack, the Frainese Society of Clifton,Saint Gerard of Newark, and San Rocco of NYC. We make donations to the needy and contribute funds to our church’s Food Pantry for the poor. Our meetings are held usually on a Monday once a month in the church rectory.

Society

Administration:

President: Antonino S. Pollaro
Vice President: Frank Lio
Treasurer: Giuseppe A. Pagano
Recording Secretary: Emil Carafa
Corresponding Secretary: Joseph Lisciandrello
Sergeant at Arms: Silvestro Giglio, Vinny Nocito, & Antonio Pagano