ECHO Molise
  Emigration and Cultural Heritage of the Molise
Echo: from Washington D.C.

We are honored to present a special article by Lucio D'Andrea, Founder and President Emeritus of the Abruzzo Molise Heritage Society (AMHS), describing his perspective on immigration and the events leading to the founding the AMHS.  The AMHS is a membership society with a vision closely similar to ECHO Molise, and its successes encourage us in our early stages of organization.  Thanks, Lucio!

The Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society-A Success Story

 

The idea of establishing the Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society (AMHS) came about after my wife, Edvige, my brother, Joseph, and I attended the First World Congress of Molisani in North America.  The Congress was held in Toronto in August 1999 and was hosted by the Federation of Associations of Molisani in Canada. 

 

For my brother and me, being immigrants of Molise, the Congress was an impressive event.  Particularly noteworthy was the high degree of unity and pride among the many Molisani immigrants who settled in Canada in the early 1950’s.  These immigrants had achieved economic success and had retained their identity as “Molisani” in a country that posed similar challenges to immigrants in the United States in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. 

 

The Toronto experience prompted me to explore the possibility of establishing a Heritage Society in the Washington, DC area.  In doing so, I realized that the presence of native Molisani and descendants was modest in the area and could not sustain a “Molisani-only” Society.  I decided to include Abruzzo.  Combining these two regions reestablished, at least on paper, a union of two regions which up until 1963 were one.  To launch the Society, I sought the help of Father Zanoni, Pastor of Holy Rosary Church, who agreed to place a notice in the Voce Italiana, the church’s monthly newsletter, inviting readers to indicate if there was an interest for such a Society.  My wife, Edvige, an Abruzzese, and I were pleasantly surprised by the response, sufficient in number to proceed with plans to organize an Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society.  Joining us in this endeavor were some enthusiastic “Abbruzesi” and “Molisani.”   Among them were Sergio Fresco, Ennio DiTullio (his enthusiasm was contagious), Mario Ciccone, Gloria Sabatini, Tony D’Onofrio and Omero Sabatini. 

 

We shared a common purpose for the Society: to promote and perpetuate our cultural heritage to our children and their descendants.  We recognized that most Americans, and for that matter, Italian Americans, knew little about the regions of Abruzzo and Molise.  Travel books gave scant notice to the charm, beauty, history and culture of these two regions and its people.  In June 2000, the Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society (AMHS) was officially launched at the Casa Italiana, the social hall attached to Holy Rosary Church.   From that modest beginning the Society has grown to over 200 members.  The Society is embraced by other people with no ties to either of the regions, but simply appreciate being part of a group that is highly motivated and enjoy the culture and cultural offerings of the Society.  AMHS has become one of the more dynamic and highly-regarded Italian American organizations in the Washington, DC area.  Its programs and activities over the years have been varied and extensive, reflecting its mission.

 

A highlight of the Society’s social calendar is its annual Christmas Gala, a festive occasion for members and friends.  One noted Gala honoree included Associate US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia.  It also sustains a scholarship program.

 

Aside from offering a variety of social and cultural programs, the Society’s outreach to other Italian-American organizations in the area is well known and appreciated.  The Embassy of Italy has expressed its support and appreciation for the role the Society has played in enhancing the image of Italy in the Washington, DC area.  For more information about the AMHS, please visit our website at www.abruzzomoliseheritagesociety.org

  

Lucio D’Andrea

Founder and President Emeritus



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