A Message from the President

January 2021 Newsletter                    

We have a brand-new year ahead of us, let us pledge to make it a year filled with positive thoughts and counting our blessings. Let me start by wishing you love, friendship and good health.

I hope each of you will be able to join your friends in the Forum at some of the events coming up this year.  The Executive Council will be meeting to plan events for the year once it is safe. Please go on the website or see emails for announcements of events.

The Columbus Forum Lodge is a member of the East Region of the Sons of Italy in America with 12 other Lodges. 

The Columbus Forum 2020 dinner was postponed until October 14, 2021.  We will be honoring the 2020 awardees at that time.   If you paid for the 2020 dinner, you are paid for the 2021 dinner.  A flyer will be coming out in the spring with the dinner information. Our 2020 Scholarships were given to the awardees in June 2020.  In this mailing are the 2021 applications. Two 2021 scholarships are for any child, member or non-member.  One is for a senior in a Philadelphia School District High School and one is for a child presently in college.  The other scholarships are for children or grandchildren of Forum members. If you have children who are eligible for any of the scholarships or know of anyone eligible, please give them the form to complete and return. 

I hope you can attend the dinner where we could socialize with our friends.

If you have information on a member and would like to share with members, please email Renee Novello.

Have a safe and Happy New Year!!

Marylouise De Nicola

Happy Birthday
to the following members:

January: Anthony Canamucio, Salvatore DiGiovanni, Rose Gallagher, Patty Meehan, John Minniti, Anthony Repice,

February: Michael Calderone, Janet D’Amato, Grace Grillo, Dominic Marinucci, AnnaMarie Mattei, Vincent Trombetta,     Kimberly Wharton

March: Ralph Bonagura, Vincent Ianni, Emilio Maticoli, Marianne McLaughlin, Josephine Miller, Catherine Muffi,        Renee Novello, Anthony Panepinto, Yasir Roundtree, Michelina Serriani

April: Peter Certo, Anna Marie Tamarro

May: Priscella Bloomingdale, Ellen Denofa, Rose Rita DePiano, Paul Domino, Cindy Farlino, John Frangipani, Louis Kober, Michael Mancuso, Pasquale Nestico, Amanda O’Hara, Marie Bonner, Ida Rom0lino,

June: Donald Anticoli, JoAnn Baker, Charles Camilari, Susan Cella, Salvatore Ferraro, Carmen Gasparo, Anthony Labruscio, Mary Morina, Anne Cellucci, Carmen Verrilli


October 2017

During October, we celebrate Christopher Columbus and everyone knows that he was an Italian Explorer, Navigator and Colonizer born in Genoa. Recently, I read an interesting article written by Christopher Klein in 2012, and I’d like to share some of the facts from this article with you.

Ten Things You May Not Know about Christopher Columbus

  1. Columbus didn’t set out to prove the earth was round. As early as the 6th century B.C., the Greek mathematician Pythagoras surmised the world was round and Aristotle backed him up.
  2. Columbus was likely not the first European to cross the Atlantic Ocean. That distinction is generally given to Norse Viking, Leif Eriksson who landed in Newfoundland about 1000 A.D., five centuries before Columbus set sale.
  3. Three countries refused to back Columbus’ Voyage. For nearly a decade, Columbus lobbied European monarchies to bankroll his quest to discover a western sea route to Asia.   Portugal, England and France said no.
  4. Nina and Pinta were not the actual names of two of Columbus’ three ships. In 15th Century Spain, ships were traditionally named after saints. Salty sailors however, bestowed less-than-sacred nicknames for their vessels. Mariners dubbed one of the three ships on Columbus’s 1492 voyage, the Pinta, Spanish for Painted One and the Santa Clara was nicknamed the Nina in honor of its owner, Nino.
  5. The Santa Maria was wrecked on Columbus’ historic voyage. On Christmas Eve of 1492, a cabin boy ran Columbus’s flag ship into a coral reef near present day, Haiti. Its crew spent a very un-merry Christmas salvaging the Santa Maria’s cargo.
  6. Columbus made four voyages to the New World. Although best known for his historic 1492 expedition, the other voyages took him into Caribbean islands, South and Central America.
  7. Columbus returned to Spain in chains in 1500. Columbus’s governance of Hispaniola could be brutal and tyrannical. Colonists complained to the monarchy about mismanagement and a royal commissioner brought him back to Spain in chains. King Ferdinand subsidized his fourth voyage.
  8. A lunar eclipse may have saved Columbus. In 1504 Columbus was stranded in Jamaica, abandoned by half of his crew and denied food by the islanders. Columbus warned the islanders that his god was upset with their refusal of food and that the moon would rise inflamed with wrath. On the appointed night, the eclipse darkened the moon and the terrified island offered food and provisions to Columbus.
  9. Even in death, Columbus continued to cross the Atlantic. Following his death in1506, Columbus was buried in Spain. At the request of his daughter-in-law, the body of Columbus was shipped across the Atlantic and interred in Santo Domingo cathedral. Some of his remains remained in Seville and as a result, pieces of Columbus are both in the New World and the Old World.
  10. Heirs of Columbus and the Spanish monarchy were in litigation until 1790. After Columbus’ death, his heirs waged a lengthy battle with the Spanish Crown claiming that the monarchy short-changed them on money. The legal battle dragged on until the 300th anniversary of Columbus’s famous voyage.

Marie Pizzi Bonner

President, Columbus Forum, OSIA, #1492

Happy Birthday
to the following members:

September: Lisa Ciaranca Kaplan, Emidio Fanelli, Angela Manning      Barbra Pignatelli, Barbara Ricci, Rita Cerrini- Rysak, Karen AnnTeti

October:  Marylouise DeNicola, Alfred Farlino, Rocco Gigante,

 Leslie Hendry, Louis Lippo

November:  Alisann Bonifanti, Francine Deal, Joseph Fraioli, Robert Gargano, Joseph Mingroni, Rachelle Nocito, Eleanor Starzmann,

Vincent Ucciferri

December: Carol Domb, Jean Farlino, Carmen LaRocca, Jerry Palumbo, Joseph Starenieri




A Message from the President

May 2017

As you know the term of the Presidency of Augy Pescatore has come to a close.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his hard work and commitment to our group. During his presidency, Augy, in his quiet manner, was a force for change such as adding new members, and continuing to try to offer our services. We now are on board with serving dinners at the Gift of Life, in addition to our work at the Mc Donald House. Our scholarship fund has increased and we have added additional scholarships. He helped to increase the credibility of our association. Augy is very proud of his Italian heritage, and has promoted our culture, our traditions, and our contributions to society.

His devotion to the Columbus Forum will be difficult to match.  However, he has given us all many examples of how to get the job done well. If you ever needed assistance, Augy was there, even before you asked. When President Obama left his office, and may I quote from his final message, he stated that the American people made him a better man. Augy, as you leave your presidency, may I say from all of us, that we are all better men and women because of your presidency of the Columbus forum.

Thank you for your attendance at our recent President’s Dinner. A good time was had by all. The dinner is always an opportunity to renew friendships with former co-workers, to see the happy faces of our retirees and learn about their present endeavors, and to meet new members who recently joined our group. As you know, proceeds are used to fund our scholarships. We are grateful to the many vendors, members and others who placed ads in our program book and provided our auction gifts.

I would like to remind all our members that you are very welcome to join the Executive Committee for our monthly meeting. We want to create an atmosphere where vital information and ideas can be exchanged and implemented. We meet on the third Tuesday of every month from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. We will be meeting at a new venue beginning on May 16,2017. Our meeting will be held at the Annunciation Rectory located at 10th and Dickinson

Streets and parking is available in the yard.  We look forward to the honor of your presence. You will be receiving a survey that we urged you to complete. We are looking for ideas from you to make our association more engaging. We will share the results of our survey with all of you. We have a great group, so I know we will generate many exciting ideas.

The Columbus Forum’s main vehicle is the annual President’s Dinner. We raise money for many worthy charitable causes, such as our contributions this past year to Italy’s Relief Fund after their earthquakes. We honor our scholarship winners and acknowledge our community leaders.  This year the Columbus forum will celebrate our 50th anniversary.  We want this anniversary to be a very Gala Event. Presently, the Executive Committee is now seeking out various venues to celebrate our Gala.

The date of our event will be Thursday, March 22, 2018, so please save the date.

We will soon be forming various committees to make our Golden Anniversary, one that we will all remembered in years to come. We will send out to all members a list of committees that are needed for the event.  We welcome and appreciate having members join the Executive Committee in planning our Affair to Remember.

As ideas are offered, we will be sure to past them on to our membership.

Recently, we sent you an email regarding statements made by the head of the National Education Agency, Lily Garcia, in which she urged the various school districts to celebrate the second Monday Of October, the federal Columbus Day Holiday as El Dia de la Razza and Indigenous People Day. OSIA is the largest organization of Italian Americans.  Our Mission is to promote the Italian culture, culture, and the contributions that our ancestors have made to this country and the world. We also sent you a copy of a letter that you can use to help formulate your own personal letter to her. We need to help her to understand that we are not going to allow this to happen. Please try to get others to send letters to her as well.  If she receives enough pressure from all over the country, she may change her stance on this. Thank you for taking the time out of your very busy schedules to do this.

Marie Pizzi Bonner

President, Columbus Forum, OSIA, #1492


Happy Birthday
to the following members:

 April:       Peter Certo, Joseph Gentile, Lynn Golden, Rita Kushner, Mae Agnes Pasquariello, Anna Marie Tamaro,

 May:       Priscilla Bloomingdale, Ellen Denofa, Rose Rita DePiano, Paul Domino, Cindy Farlino, John Frangipani,

Louis Kober,  Gerard Laskowski, Michael Mancuso, Pasquale Nestico, Marie Bonner, Aida Romolini, Joseph Trelli

June:      Donald Anticoli, JoAnn Baker, Charles Camilari, Susan Cella, Maria DiFlorio, Sal Ferraro, Carmen Gaspero,

Anthony Labrusciano, Mary Morina

July:       Dennis Biondo, James Dadario, Keith Dezii, John Lombardi, Alice Maglio, Raymond Moffa,

Paula Todarello-Taylor

August:    Lisa Brigandi, Annette Iero-Pushkarewicz, Stephen Lanzetta, Doneda Lederer, Augustine Pescatore,

Joanne Sisto Anderson, Marialaina Souders

48th President’s Scholarship Dinner and More!

The Forum had its 48th President’s Scholarship Dinner on March 31, 2016. If you didn’t get there you missed another grand event. If you are following the Forum on the web or reading your newsletter you know that we now have two new scholarships that are awarded on this night. Both are named after Dr.Michael Marcase. One is through a City Grant out of Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s Office. The other yet to be awarded is through Dr. Marcase’s estate. Speaking of the scholarships if your children or grandchildren will be a senior ready for college in the 16-17 school year please apply, especially if they are going to take Italian language or cultural courses.

We were busy the next week too! On April 6, 2016 Forum members cooked for the families at the Ronald McDonald’s House. We’ll be cooking the same Italian dinner for the families at the “Gift of Life House” later this year. Look for the date on the web.

Speaking of the web, have you visited it lately? It is user friendly and full of info, pictures of what the Forum is up to, like our New York Trip on 5.15.16. E-mail Renee Novello or look in the newsletter for further info. We have t-shirts long and short sleeved with the Forum logo available and will special order hoodies too.

Okay now to a serious issue that the Forum has started to address and you should know about. The Philadelphia School District has dropped the National Holiday, “Christopher Columbus Day” from the calendar for 16-17 school year. A letter was sent from the Forum Executive Board to both Superintendent Hite and the Chair of the SRC, Marge Neff.  Among the others that sent supporting letters were: both the state and national OSIA, Senator Farnese, Councilman Mark Squilla, Judge Panepinto and the Council General of Italy. Our letter is posted on the web. Take a look at it. If there is no action to reinstall the holiday we will be starting a petition drive. We will be reaching out to you and other organizations. There appears to be a national agenda to eliminate “Columbus Day”. This is a slight to all Italians and Italian Americans. What’s next, altering history and the books we use in schools?

Italian Americans must become aware and fight these types of issues that border on discrimination or lead to it. Speak up and let us know if you know of any other slight to our culture and history. Do not be afraid to write or call your local politicians as well as state and federal senators. Let them know that you are aware of what is going on. I’ll let you know of the school district’s response.  This is not about losing a day off!

Augustine “Augy” Pescatore
President, Columbus Forum


Good Evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 48th Annual Columbus Forum, Order of Sons of Italy, President’s Scholarship Dinner.  This night always draws the best of our supporters. For starters the school unions, the PFT, congratulations to President Jerry Jordan and the CB slate on your recent election victory.  Teamsters Local #502, CASA is always here, led by their President, Robert McGrogan.

Then there are our Friends in the Professional Organizations; B’nai Brith  the Schoolmen’s’ Organizations. Foundations,   and “CATCH” Inc.

And from the School District; first to my friends and peers from the Office for School Safety, and my favorite personal supporter, my wife Joanne.

We have several special guests tonight the Council General of Italy Dr. Andrea Ca-ne-body, Councilman Mark Squilla and Judge Paul Panepinto. Senator Larry Farnese stopped by earlier.

When talking about famous Italians we often mention Michelangelo, DaVinci, Vespucci, Paganini, Marconi, and of course Christopher Columbus; all famous in their fields; Architecture, Mathematics, Physics, Inventors, Explorers; Saints Catherine of Sienna and Rita of Cacia and both Queens Maria Di Medici and Catherine De Medici. Even the first non-Italian pope wasn’t named until  1978, John Paul II.

Earlier we took a moment to remember loved ones who have passed away. I want to mention two famous Italian Americans who died in the past year. They were not Inventors or scientists or great religious figures. They were simple sons of Italian Immigrants. One is Joe Garagiola the other Yogi Berra.  The OSIA National Executive Director Phil Piccigallo stated of Joe  “Like his dear and long time friend from St. Louis, Yankee Hall of Fame catcher, Yogi Berra, Joe was a true son of Italy.  “He was profoundly proud of his heritage and roots, a strong supporter of our organization and a believer in the fundamental values of family, country and community, which OSIA, and the Columbus Forum promotes and shares. I’ll add that is true of all Italian Americans and all good-hearted people.

After I heard about Yogi Berra’s death, curiously I researched and learned that his story was much like many of ours. Whether your grandparents or parents came to Ellis Island from Italy or Ireland, Eastern Europe or Africa.  I am sure you will relate to his family’s experience.

Yogi Berra was born Lorenzo Pietro Berra in a primarily Italian neighborhood of St. Louis called “The Hill” to Italian immigrant parents. His father, Pietro, originally arrived at Ellis Island in 1909, at the age of 23. Yogi stated, My father came from the old country. He didn’t know what baseball was but he was ready to go to work and he worked hard in a brickyard.

To make it there, in New York, Yogi had to overcome the ghettoization and the prejudice — some of it casual, a lot of it blatant — that existed against Italian immigrants and their offspring in this country in the early 20th Century. Berra grew up in the so-called Hill District of St. Louis, a place that many outsiders instead called “Dago Hill,” even though the term “Dago” has always been a slur against Italians. He grew up  across the street from boyhood friend and later competitor Joe Garagiola;

But a lot of non-Italians apparently didn’t see the term as harmful or dismissive — even when Berra arrived in New York to play for the Yankees, some people — usually opposing players, harassed him as “The Little Dago.” Slurs against Italian-Americans were common, including “wop” — an abbreviation for “without papers.” Or, as we might say today, undocumented.

In the schools, children faced what President George W. Bush described decades later as “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” A social worker who studied The Hill in that era said that many school teachers viewed

their Italian-American students as untrustworthy delinquents. Before 1940, only a handful of Italian-Americans in the neighborhood had finished high school; Berra completed just the 8th grade, a fairly common experience, to help support the family.

He enlisted in the Navy during WWII and volunteered for the “Rocket Boats”. When he came back he returned to the world of baseball, the rest is a record breaking history; three times MVP, 13 World Series rings winning the series both in the American and National Leagues either as a player or coach.

Joe Torre remarked at Yogi’s funeral regarding his baseball career:  “He was so much more than that. He was so good and so honest, so real and so human.”

Yogi Berra quietly shared his wealth and experiences much like many successful Italian-Americans, Mother Theresa even quoted on Frank Sinatra’s generosity when he went about anonymously building a wing to a hospital was the way God appreciated giving, quietly.

Yogi Berra built a museum and educational center hosting “kids 2 pro” training as well as drug and alcohol abuse programs for troubled teens at Montclair College in NJ; subsequently the Montclair College sports stadium was named after him.

In 2015 Yogi Berra was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Obama, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

You don’t have to be a sports star, entertainer, scientist or explorer to do children some good in this life, whether you get involved like the Forum does cooking meals for the Ronald McDonald House or Gift of Life Program, reading to a child who has no one to read to him or simply as you have tonight attending and participating in our charitable dinner that rewards and recognizes our children for working and studying hard.

So to paraphrase one of Yogi’s sayings:

“I’m a lucky guy and I’m happy to be with you all.  And I want to thank everyone for making this night necessary.”

And lastly “this night ain’t over til it’s over.

Augustine “Augy” Pescatore
President, Columbus Forum

Message from the President

January, 2016

A Happy and Healthy New Year

Un Nuovo Anno Felice e Sano

We are well past “Little Christmas” so the decorations are down and the New Year champagne bottles have been placed in the recycling bin. A New Year has begun and from all the members of the Forum’s Executive Board we wish you a Healthy and Happy New Year and hope you celebrated a Blessed Christmas.

It seems like this paragraph never changes for those of us still hard at work at the District. We are still toiling under the constant dark cloud of budgetary problems. The latest, threatening only enough funds to keep the schools open until the end of January. The other problem, the SRC, the new mayor will be able to straighten out until they are hopefully completely banished. In a previous newsletter I mentioned all the hiring from outside the city. Oddly enough for a myriad of reasons some previous Senior Management people who left or retired have been hired on a consulting basis in the past month or so. Changes remain to be seen.

Terrorism struck Philadelphia in the attempted assassination of a Philadelphia Police Officer. Please remember him and all those who protect our families every day whether in Law Enforcement or the Armed Forces.

Pope Francis has announced this Jubilee Year as a year of mercy. Beside forgiveness, the Year of Mercy is an invitation to love, kindness, and generosity. If you want to begin practicing any or all of these virtues join us when we cook a meal either at the McDonald House or the Gift of Life House. If you cannot come and help, think about donating towards one of the courses. Maybe bake a cake or make a pot of gravy. Yes, I said it, gravy NOT sauce.

Have you looked at the Columbus Forum’s Web Site lately, go to it you will be surprised at what’s been done. It’s really user friendly and informative. If you have some good news about you or your family send it to Renee at . We will post it for the members to celebrate, like anniversaries, promotions, births to name a few.

We’ll also be having a General Membership meeting soon; the date is yet to be determined. Again, we are always open to suggestions; we really would like you to come out to a General Membership meeting. Tell us what you would like to do, see or hear about. We’ll arrange it.

Please make plans to attend the 48th President’s Scholarship Dinner this year. It is being held on March 31, 2016, Thursday at Galdo’s Caterers. This is our main fund raiser for the year and as always a good time to catch up with friends and co-workers from the past. Please come out eat, drink, and dance with friends and loved ones. The Dinner Reservation and Ad Flyer are enclosed.

Augy Pescatore
President, Columbus Forum