Food for thought

June 8-14, 2006
Food for thought
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
La Festa Italiana awards $100,000 to Catholic schools and parishes in the diocese

The future is looking brighter for a number of schools and churches in the Syracuse Diocese. On May 22, La Festa Italiana held a drawing in which St. Peter’s Church in Syracuse received a first place award of $25,000 and Bishop Ludden Jr./Sr. High School in Syracuse received a second place award of $15,000. Christian Brothers Academy Jr./Sr. High School in Syracuse, Bishop Grimes Jr./Sr. High School in East Syracuse, Blessed Sacrament School in Syracuse, St. Margaret’s School in Mattydale, St. Lucy’s Church in Syracuse and Our Lady of Pompei Church in Syracuse each received awards of $10,000. The drawing took place at the sixth annual Taste of Italy event sponsored by the La Festa Italiana and was held at the Art and Home Center at the New York State Fair Grounds.

Diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools Michael Colabufo was present and had the honor of drawing the winning names from a basket. “I’m overjoyed that an organization such as La Festa Italiana would consider supporting the Catholic schools,” Colabufo said. “I’m proud that we can benefit from this. It’s a privilege to be singled out. Hopefully, this will be the first of many years that they will consider us.”

This year, the recipients of the donations sold the tickets for the Taste of Italy event. Each of the organizations was asked to sell 50 tickets. The La Fiesta Italiana board of directors usually sells the $20 tickets to the event.

The Taste of Italy affair drew close to 600 people. That night, food vendors provided samples of their specialties to those in attendance. Parishioners from St. Peter’s and Our Lady of Pompei Churches in Syracuse were among the many people who attended the affair. Father Paul Angelicchio, pastor of both churches, remarked on how the parishioners were very happy and excited when the names were drawn. “The kindness of the La Festa Italiana Committee was overwhelming,” said Father Angelicchio. “We are very proud and humbled to receive the funds.”

Principal of St. Margaret’s School in Mattydale, Kathleen Hanson, and others representing the school were thrilled with the drawing. “We were so excited,” said Hanson. “That amount of money is very substantial for a school the size of ours. We are so grateful to be considered to receive the funds. The La Festa Italiana has always been generous and supportive to our school. For the past several years they have contributed to our Angel Scholarship Fund. We haven’t finalized the plans for utilizing the money, but we are considering using it for scholarships and for technological support.”

La Festa Italiana is a non-profit organization, and its original mission was to preserve Italian heritage and to construct an Italian community center. Recently, the board members of the organization decided to use the money that had been saved for the purpose of building a community center to promote Catholic education. “We decided to give away $100,000,” said president of the board of directors, Samuel Rotundo. “It made me feel good to see the effort going back into the community. We thought we could make a larger impact by concentrating on Catholic education — everyone knows someone who can use Catholic education. Everyone was very pleased with the results. We would like to donate $100,000 again next year.” Rotondo’s children attend Christian Brothers Academy and St. Margaret’s School.

La Festa Italiana got its start in May 1998 when board of directors vice president Ginnis Lostumbo and secretary Linda DeFrancisco decided it might be nice to organize an Italian festival. They met every Thursday morning from May through September to plan the event. The festival was planned for the second week following the 1998 Labor Day Storm. “We didn’t know if it would be successful,” said Rotondo. “But, it was a success. I think everyone was ready to get out after the storm.”

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