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Columbus Day Mass
From American Oggi
October 15, 2002

By Antonio Ciappina

To thrill the Italians that crowded into St. Patrick’s cathedral in New York on Columbus day, the cardinal archbishop spoke the Gospel. "It will seem strange to you," he said, "but I can assure you that I have thought of making my name become Italian; making it ‘Egano’ by adding an ‘O’. Also, without the addition of the ‘O’ I can tell you that, having lived in the Eternal City for more than 20 years, so much of Italy is in me that I consider myself Italian by vocation and sentiment."

"Christopher Columbus Day 2002" continued S. E. Egan, "signifies a special moment in the history of our beloved city. September 11th last year, men and women in the police force, firemen and those who work for these institutions that provide immediate help, have demonstrated a heroic capacity and self-sacrifice that inspired the nation and certainly the world. Hundreds of these men and women in our community were individuals of Italian descent. They have demonstrated the same courage of Christopher Columbus and the altruism and abnegation of Francesco d’Assisi and Catherine of Siena, and they have made me feel proud to be an adopted Italian-American."

"In our prayers today", urged his Eminence, "we implore him to continue to kindly protect the children of Italy scattered all over the world. I posed the example of our police heroes, firemen, medical professionals, especially those whose ancestors landed on these shores from Italy, asking for them a great blessing this Columbus Day and for all the years to come."

"Yesterday" added Cardinal Egan, "Hispanics celebrated their Columbus Day; many of these originated first from Italian parishes, with churches constructed by Italians. You Italians have not forgotten your humble beginnings; you have helped one another with your mutual aid societies; Mutual Aid Societies M.A.S." The logo for "Memento Audere Semper"… "you have always dared"… "You continue to dare; you have always helped whoever was in need. Today you have spokesmen in every field, professionals who are intelligent and strong and many artists. I see among those of you in the church, Franco Zefirelli. And we have many Italians in the hospitals, in schools, and in places of worship; we consider the sisters, and in particular we remember Mother Cabrini, who wanted to go to the Orient, but the Holy Father suggested the west. Not loving the ocean, or at least not finding herself at ease on the ocean, she went across the ocean 30 times in 33 years and has left a heritage that is still alive today." He asked of everyone, who faced one another: "we must unite and help one another. This is not difficult to someone with an Italian heart. You must continue, my dear Italians, in the style of mother Cabrini." In church there was a thick representation of firemen from Belluno, Cremona and Treviso. So as to have the whole boot, Sicily has a large delegation of mayors, community advisors, evaluators from various communities in the province of Palermo, with the boss, Ciro Spataro. Among the Italian Americans that met, a massive representation from the society of Monte San Giacomo, which brings together natives of Salerno, stuck out. It will help, incidentally, to bring up that Raffaele Martino, who was the representative from the Vatican to the U.N, had his roots in Salerno."

The mass was conducted in Italian with some of the readings and religious hymns in Latin and English. A celebration equal to that which was anticipated, an expression of faith, solidarity and a lot of body heat.

Translated from Italian by Alena Weller

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