Italian Sons and Daughters of America is pleased to announce that a new ISDA District has been established in the state of Louisiana.
ISDA warmly welcomes our new members into our family, and looks forward to sharing our culture, social events and activities with each of them.
The two new lodges formed in Louisiana are as follows.
The first has been named the St. Expedite Lodge of Southern Louisiana. Its members primarily reside in the cities of Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and St. Charles. The lodge’s Interim President is T. J. Stratanova.
The lodge selected its name to honor St. Expedite, a Roman soldier who was martyred for his conversion to Christianity. His name is invoked when help is needed to get something accomplished quickly.
This article first appeared in La Nostra Voce, ISDA’s 28-page monthly newspaper, which chronicles Italian-American life, culture and traditions. Subscribe today.
The second lodge has been named the St. Rosalia Lodge of Northern Louisiana. Its members are residents of Alexandria, Shreveport, and Monroe. Roy Arthur will serve as the lodge’s Interim President.
This lodge selected its name to honor St. Rosalia, the patron saint of Palermo, Italy, who is venerated for saving the city’s residents from the plague.
Charles Marsala, the President of the American Italian Federation of the Southeast, took the initiative to help form the two lodges, and will serve as the District Vice President for the State of Louisiana.
Mr. Marsala was also involved in last year’s successful effort to obtain a resolution of formal apology from the city of New Orleans to the Italian American community, for the city’s participation in the mass lynching of eleven Italian immigrants in 1891.
Mr. Marsala, who was impressed with ISDA’s mission, website and newspaper, felt that the ISDA should have a meaningful presence in Louisiana, a state with a rich Italian American history.
Historically the port of New Orleans became a major point of entry for Sicilian immigrants as early as the 1880s.
In fact, between 1884 and 1924, an estimated 290,000 Italian immigrants, most of whom were from Sicily, arrived in New Orleans.
So many of them settled in the French Quarter that the area was actually referred to as “Little Palermo”.
Many of these immigrants found jobs working as laborers in the sugar cane plantations. But they also found work on the docks, in the fruit markets and in macaroni factories.
Many of the descendants of these Italian immigrants remain in the New Orleans area, and throughout Louisiana, to this day.
They proudly display their heritage in many ways, but especially in their devotion to the celebration of St. Joseph’s Day, on March 19.
They hold a grand parade each year in the French Quarter to honor St. Joseph on his feast day.
In addition to the parade, the tradition of creating an elaborate St. Joseph’s Table remains very popular with Louisiana’s Italian American community.
The tables, or alters, are a reenactment of a century’s old tradition of honoring St. Joseph for ending a draught that was devastating Sicily. Symbolic foods are placed on the table which are shared with family, friends and the poor.
In closing, ISDA is excited to be able to work with our brothers and sisters in Louisiana to continue our mission of uniting Italian Americans throughout our country in celebrating our culture and preserving the traditions our ancestors brought with them from Italy.