St. Bartholomew Apostle Italian Catholic Church


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A History of the Parish of St. Bartholomew, Norwich, N Y.

The official name of this parish is that of St. Bartholomew, Apostle, and it is located at the corner of East Main and Silver streets, in Norwich. The parish was formed on October 31, 1923, the first parish made by Monsignor Daniel Joseph Curley, then Bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse.

The parish was formed from the parish of St. Paul, and was intended as a national church for the care of the Italian people of Norwich.

Interest in the Italians was first shown by Father Clement Shaughnessy, then assistant to Father Edward Prendergast, the pastor of St. Paul's. Ably assisted by Miss Kate Griffin, the principal of one of the public schools in Norwich, a woman filled with real zeal for the salvation of the Italian children, Father Shaughnessy rented a vacant store on Ross Avenue and there the children were gathered and instructed in Christian Doctrine.

The result of this was that the Italian colony decided to have a church and with the consent of Father Tiernan, who succeeded Father Prendergast as pastor, a frame dwelling house was purchased at the corner of Birdsall and Clinton streets in 1919 and converted into a small " Mission-school-chapel " as it was called by Father Tiernan. This makeshift house of worship was blessed on St. Bartholomew's day, August 24, 1919, by Father Tiernan, assisted by the assistant, Father Joseph Canfield. Having a house of worship did not content the Italian colony, so now they petitioned Father Tiernan to use his influence in getting for them a pastor who would devote his entire time to their care. This ambition was not seconded by the pastor and was ignored by the Bishop of Syracuse, Monsignor Grimes. The next four years were years of quarreling, writing of letters to the Apostolic Delegate and to Rome. This for the most part was done for the colony by an Italian priest from New York, a seminary companion of one of the parishioners.

In February, 1920, Father Walter A. Sinnott was transferred from St. Cyril and Method church, Binghamton, where he had been an assistant and chaplain to St. Mary's Home in the same city. He stepped into all the disturbance, most of which could have been avoided. So the next three years and a half continued the friction with Father Sinnott trying to reconcile pastor and people, and making but little headway. In May, 1923, Father Curley became the Bishop of Syracuse and he immediately took the situation in hand with regard to the Italians in Norwich. He sent for the trustees of the church, Mr. Frank B. Natoli and Mr. Frank Rando, and got the Italian side of the trouble, and the next day sent for Father Sinnott and told him that if he were willing he would appoint him the pastor. Father Sinnott consented and the colony received the news with joy. However, the appointment was conditioned on the people buying a rectory and furnishing it prior to the appointment. With the house bought and furnished, the Italian people awaited the appointment of Father Sinnott. This finally came the last day of October and on All Saints' Day, 1923, the national parish of St. Bartholomew began its independent existence. The rectory purchased was at the corner of Birdsall and Front streets, a fine old rambling house, one of the oldest in the city.

The joy of the Italian colony was felt by the whole city and both Protestants and Catholics rejoiced that now the Italians would have, as some of the older Italian men expressed it, "a priest of their own control." This colony, unlike so many Italian colonies in the United States, was one that loved its Catholic heritage and was ready to make sacrifices for its preservation. For the most part the people came from the Lipari Islands off the north coast of Sicily, a group of seven islands known in mythology as the Aeolian Islands. Hardy and rugged, from fighting both sea, and mountain and volcano for sustenance, this people lived a real patriarchal life, uncontaminated by the vices of the mainland and its anticlericalism. Save for rare visits to the island of Sicily, their only acquaintance with Italy proper was when they took boat from Naples, Messina or Lipari for Norwich, N. Y., where the largest colony of Liparesi in America is located.

With their own church and their own pastor, the colony set out to pay the debts on church and rectory which had accumulated because of the friction between priest and people. By July, 1924, the church and rectory was clear of
debt and the people began to make plans for a new church, one worthy of their great patron Saint Bartholomew. Within two years, thanks to the generosity of the parishioners, a site for the new church was bought at the corner of East Main and Silver streets, a spot geographically about in the center of the town. The owner, Matthew D. Murphy, and wife, were willing to sell; and on Silver street, directly behind this property, a large house owned by a Mr. Brown, was also obtained for a rectory. The house on the corner was moved to a lot next the old rectory on Birdsall street. Paul Hueber, of Syracuse, was chosen architect; the plans were drawn and approved by the building committee of the diocese and on October 17, 1926, the cornerstone of the new church was laid by Monsignor Daniel Doody, the Vicar-General. Father John J. McCreary preached the English sermon, and Father John Marchegiani the Italian sermon the afternoon of the ceremony. About two thousand people attended the blessing of the cornerstone.

Bids on the building of the church were soon opened and Michael Rafferty, of Syracuse, being the lowest bidder, was awarded the contract. The building, of local blue stone from quarries here in Norwich and at Oxford, is of Romanesque design, with the trim of Indiana limestone, all laid in white cement mortar. The roof is of red tile, typical of the church style. On the west side to the rear of the church is a delightful tower adding strength and old world charm to the entire building. The facade with its rich rose window and open vestibule arched over, readily reminds one of the churches so often seen in Italy. The nave seats four hundred people and a gallery for the choir is able to take care of a hundred more worshippers. The sanctuary, semi-circular in form, is the setting for a gorgeous marble baldachin altar, the gift of Father Sinnott to the church in memory of his parents. It is the only altar in the church proper, the usual side altars being done away and statues of our Lady and St. Joseph occupying pedestals where the altars would ordinarily be, gives the sanctuary that much more spaciousness. The tower entrance from the street leads into the Baptistry where there is a touching shrine to the Mother of Sorrows.

This church was dedicated by Monsignor Curley on November 27, 1927, the 38th birthday of Father Sinnott. The church building cost $67,000, the furnishings, heating, plumbing, lighting, etc., together with the appurtenances of the church amounted to about $25,000 which together with the cost of the land and rectory,, brought the total cost to the parish of $105,000.

The rectory at 8 Silver street is a ten-room wooden structure and was remodeled on the first floor to make it more suitable and up-to-date.

The number of families in the parish is 237, making 1049 souls.

The pioneers in forming the parish were: Frank B. Natoli and Frank Maiurano, the first trustees, in which capacity Mr. Natoli has continued up to the present time; Frank Rando, who succeeded Mr. Maiurano as trustee, and who died this year; Felix DiLorenzo, Vincenzo Aloi, Nicola Marino, Frank Famolaro, John Paino, Angelo Paino, Giuseppe Famolaro, Francesco Paino, Antonio Natoli fu Giovanni, Angelo Natoli fu Domenico, Antonio Funari, Angelo Schecetano, Angelo Natoli fu Giuseppe, Antonio La Greca, Angelo Biviano di Giuseppe, Bartolo Taranto, Antonio Casamento, Antonio Paino, Angelo Natoli di Giovanni. The old ledger of twenty years ago shows that these men gave fifty or more dollars in 1919 that the first church might be built.

On the death of Miss Griffin, June 24, 1937, the parish was dismayed as it had relied on her for so many years for the religious instruction of the children. Father Sinnott, after serious thought, decided upon bringing a community of nuns into the parish to take charge of the Christian Doctrine classes and do parish visiting. He consulted with the new Bishop when he came to administer Confirmation in October, 1937, and he approved of the undertaking. The Institute of Christian Doctrine, founded by a convert about thirty years ago for the express work of taking care of the children of emigrants in New York diocese, was decided upon, and a visit to the Superior at the mother house in Nyack, N. Y., found her willing to send a little band of Sisters to our parish. A suitable house for a convent was found at 12 Clinton street, and God raised up a benefactor who paid for the convent that our church debt might not be increased. This man is our present beloved Mayor, Frank Zuber, to whom our parish is eternally indebted, not only for this act of generosity, but for many others in the past. By a rare coincidence the wife of Mr. Zuber is named Clara and what more fitting name for the convent could be found than " Assisi House " which brings to mind that as the greatest citizens of Assisi in Italy were St. Francis and St. Clara, in our day the greatest citizens of Norwich bear the same names. So the convent was named as a tribute to the Mayor and his consort. In mentioning benefactors of the convent we may recall the generosity of Mr. Fred O'Hara who gave five hundred dollars toward furnishing it, and Mr. John H. Scanlon and his two daughters, Agnes and Catherine, and their uncle, Father James Kilroe, of New York, who provided for the furnishing of the chapel. The convent was the home in years gone by of the Scanlon family and Mrs. Scanlon died in the room now the chapel, so that is a memorial to her.

On March 5, 1938, four nuns arrived from Nyack with Sister M. Immaculata as Superior, to take up the work left off by Miss Griffin. At the station to greet them were Dominican Sisters from St. Paul's school, Father Sinnott and many of the parishioners of St. Bartholomew's. From the station they were driven to the church where the chime of bells were pealing forth a welcome. Benediction was given and the " Holy God We Praise Thy Name " was sung to thank God for their arrival. The Sisters won the confidence and love of both children and adults and God has blessed their work.

What has the future in store for our parish? They tell us that the hope of the harvest is in the seed. Then the parish of St. Bartholomew's has a bright future, for the planting, watering and cultivating have all been done by the older generation of fathers and mothers with sacrifice and labor and the harvest to be garnered by the younger generation should be abundant even to a hundred fold.

Weddings, 1919-1939



Antonio Zieno and Caterina Zaia.

John Zieno and Rosa Garafalo.

Bartolo Rietanw and Silvia Saltalamacchia.

Dominic Spinella and Grazia Maiurano.

Thomas Zieno and Francesca Lauricella.

Joseph Portelli and Maria Schecetano.

Santo Fama and Antonia Alessi.

Frank Favaloro and Mary Machio.

George Archi and Grazia Zieno.



Gaetano Spadaro and Grace Maiurano.

Joseph Chillimi and Rosaria Giuffre.

Gaetano Natoli and Giuseppina Casaceli.

Eugenio Benenato and Catherine D'Angelo.

John Zieno and Rose Basile.

Thomas Paino and Nunziata Caezza.

Eugenio Lombardi and Josephine Borgia.

Bartolo Raffaele and Frances Mirabito.

Joseph Grosso and Nicolina Marino.

Saverio Nucera and Grazia Zieno.

Salvatore Bono and Grocefissa Bono.

John Panaro and Giuseppina Ferro.

Joseph Natoli and Eveleyn Lee.

Joseph Ocello and Santa Casamento.

John Caezza and Giovannina Testa.

Bartolo Testa and Giuseppina Paino.





1923 1924

Joseph Palamara and Grazia Garafalo.

Joseph Mirabito and Josephine Marino.

Dominic Famaloro and Jennie Mollica.

Salvatore Curcuru and Bartola Tesoriere.


Basilio Parasiliti and Angelina Famaloro.

Melvin Joslyn and Anna Testa.

Joseph W. Paino and Jennie Di Lorenzo.

Joseph Mirabito and Rosa Lo Piccolo.

Leonard Ruffo and Mary Ruffo.

Emmanuele Mirabito and Rosa La Greca.

1925 1926
Cristoforo Natoli and Giovanna Di Stefano.

Frank Fazio and Frances Picolla.

Felix Natoli and Mary Maiurano.

John Giaquinto and Frances Favaloro.

Michele Giulino and Giuseppina Favorito. J

ohn Natoli and Grace Giuffre.

1927 1928

Salvatore Dinoto and Josephine Sastri.

Joseph Zieno and Nunziata Favorito.

Antonio Dinoto and Catherine Sastri.

Antony Podenak and Mary Merlino.

Bartholomew Natoli and Frances Scafidi.

John Casaceli and Angelina Biviano.

George Caezza and Catherine Natoli.

Joseph Casamento and Grace Raffaele.

George Paino and Catherine Giuffre.

Vincent Caruana and Catherine Sidoti.

Robert Lawlor and Lucille Sullivan.

Nicr la Farano and Giuseppina Biviano.

John Loschiavo and Grace Biviano.

Frank Famaloro and Angelina Natoli.

Bartolo Merlino and Lucy Famaloro.

Nunzio Russo and Carmela D'Angelo.

Onofrio Caravaglio and Catherine Maiurano.

Antony Taranto and Frances Cincotta.

Joseph Cappadona and Rose Machio.




1929 1930

John Funaro and Florence Van Pelt.

Bartolo Palamara and Anna Paine.

Joseph P. Paine and Bertha Favaloro.

Michael Antony and Pauline De Gaetano.

Alfonse Vellake and Catherine Natoli.

Angelo Lacava and Josephine Mollica.

Bernard Babel and Dorothy Brown.

Thomas Famaloro and Mary Mollica.

Lawrence Pires and Mary Lcschiavo.


George Portelli and Marian Santolucito.

Bartolo Taranto and Maria Rodigonzo.

Frank Yacano and Angelina Barbuto.

Joseph Funaro and Anna Scarcella.

Francis Torzone and Coneetta De Gaetano.

Leo Morrone and Onofria Giuffre.





1931 1932

Sebastiano Ciminate and Rosalie Arria.

Frank Caravaglio and Rose Mollica.

Charles Nodecker and Freda Atkinson.

Frank De George and Mary Mirabito.

Joseph J. Biviano and Rose Spano.


Frank Portelli and Grace Biviano.

George Taranto and Anna Biviano.

Angelo Annesi and Mary Magistro.

Albert Gentile and Catherine Maiurano.

Nicholas Schepisi and Nicolina Alessi.

George Yacano and Frances Sidoti.

Fred Fazio and Mary Quiddo.

1933 1934

Michael Testa and Assunta Maiurano.

Joseph Palamara and Rose Manara.

Cuono Taranto and Antoniette Angelina.

Joseph Biviano and Theresa Hurlburt.

Mario Modica and Rose Elia.

Giacomo Leonardi and Angelica Panepinto.

Joseph Maiurano and Rose D'Ambra.

Angelo Schibici and Rose Favorito.

Antony Funaro and Marion Favorito.











James Schepis and Mary Fama.

Joseph Frank and Nunziata Scafidi.

Walter Coe and Catherine Scafidi.

Cosmo Panaro and Carmela Spasaro..

Eugene Raponi and Julia Bianchi.

Antony Picolla and Nunziata Sidoti.

George Yacono and Isabel Aloi.

Charles Leone and Grace Maiurano.

Joseph Funaro and Lucille Sacco.

Nunzio Scarcella and Carmela Villanti.

Clarence Bennett and Mary Annesi.

Frank Gialanella and Josephine Favorite.

Antonio Spano and Grace Biviano.

Rosario Rausa and Mary La Greca.

Stephen Di Lucia and Lena Garafalo.

Louis Marano and Rose Biviano.

Frank Canto and Grace Paino.

Charles Magistro and Mary Borzumate.

1935 1936

Angelo Natoli and Catherine Peters.

Frank Ruggiero and Assunta Biviano.

Nicholas Di Rensis and Jane Spasaro.

John Mist and Josephine Natoli.

Joseph Paulo and Dorothy Mann.

Donald Albrecht and Hattie Stone.

Frank Zorda and Mary Berben.

Dominic Panaro and Mary Merlino.

Antony DiStefano and Vivian Hilliard.

John Natoli and Jennie Famaloro.

Antony Natoli and Antoinette Borgia.

Louis Chiarino and Mary Giuffre.

Joseph DiStefano and Mary Spano.

Cuono Yacano and Nunziata Paino.

Joseph Benenati and Angelina Garito.

Rocco Clemenza and Rosa Profilio.

James Taranto and Lydia Giuffre.

Frank Cinamella and Sarah Merlino.

Frank DiLorenzo and Rosalie Favorito.

Dominic Amendola and Jane Concotta.


1937 1938

Dominic Paino and Florence D'Angelo.

Joseph Profilio and Mary Natoli.

George Messina and Mary Villanti.

Alberico Bianchi and Sarah Angelina.

Thomas Yacano and Frances Barbuto.

Vincent Mirabito and Angelina Sidoti.

Antony La Greca and Marion Stevens.

Daniel Ricci and Nunziata Scafidi.

Angelo J. Taranto and Frances Scafidi.

Philip Casamento and Antoinette Panaro.

Angelo Biviano and Josephine Garito.

Felix Mirabito and Virginia Hamilton.

George Funaro and Viola Simmons.

Ernest Colomaio and Frances Esgro.



Vincent Selvaggio and Isabel Quiddo.

Fred Smith and Mary Biviano.

Nicholas Annesi and Doris Armstrong


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