The conference will take place on November 8-9, 2013 at the Klarchek Information Commons, 4th Floor of Loyola University’s Lakeshore Campus in Rogers Park.

The event is sponsored by the Joan and Bill Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage Loyola University Chicago.

The conferees will look at the waves of Italian Catholic immigrants to Chicago during the late 19th and early 20th century. Accrding to Mark Bosco, SJ, the Director of the sponsoring unit of Loyola, the Joan and Bill Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage, this is the first of a series of conferences on Catholic ethnics in Chicago. Casa Italia of Stone Park is a co-sponsor of the event.

The event will be an in-depth attempt to answer the question: What role did Catholicism play in the lives of the immigrants? The initiative is interdisciplinary AND includes presentations by people who personally lived the Italian Catholic experience in Chicago. Scholars from the fields of ethnic studies, urban and cultural history, literature and language, theology, and sociology of religion, creative writers, artists, and lay and clerical first person narrators will explore the historical, cultural, and religious roles that Roman Catholicism played in sustaining ethnic identity for the many immigrant communities that came to Chicago in the 20th century.

The preliminary breakdown of the presenters includes a number of nationally recognized experts in Italian American Studies, a dozen Loyola faculty members (and some students), and a dozen Chicago area priests and lay persons active in patrons saint societies and parish activities. Tony Ardizzone (a prize-winning author recently retired from Indiana University), Giuseppe DeBartolo, (University of Calabria, Arcavacata); Mary Jo Bona, (Professor of Italian American Studies & English, Stony Brook University); Fr. Conrad Bontrager, (Archivist for the Servite Order in Chicago), Dominic Candeloro, (Library Curator at Casa Italia); Fred Gardaphe`, (Distinguished Professor of Italian American Studies, Queens College), and Elllen Skerrett (Independent historian and author). Also confirmed on the program are, Anne Calcagno, , Arthur Cola, and Samuele Pardini —contemporary writers and critics who have used Chicago Italian American themes in their writing.

Loyola faculty and administrators expected to make presentations include Fr. Mark Bosco, SJ, Anthony Cardoza, Professor of History, Susana Cavallo, Dean of Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center, Wiley Feinstein chairperson, department of modern languages and literature , Al Gini, Professor of Business Ethics, Anna Clara Ionta, Professor of Italian, Christina Lombardi-Diop Professor of Women’s Studies, Robert “Mickey” Lombardo, Professor of Sociology and Elfriede Wedam, Professor of the Sociology of Religion. University President, Fr. Michael Garanzini, SJ, will also participate in the conference.

Fr. Richard Fragomeni, the rector of Our Lady of Pompeii Shrine, will conclude the presentations with a look at Italian American Catholicism in the 21st Century. Among the Chicago Italian Catholic parish leaders, priests, and patron saint devotees expected to make presentations at the Saturday session are: Joseph Bruno (San Francesco Di Paola), Chris Caliendo (Our Lady of Mount Carmel), Joe Camarda (Santissima Maria Lauretana), Former Chicago Heights Mayor Angelo Ciambrone (San Rocco Oratory), C.J. Martello (Saint Anthony of Padua), Tomasina Perry (Our Lady of Pompeii.)

The conference will also offer ample visual portrayal of the themes. The artists of Casa Italia will offer an art show entitled “Faith of Our Fathers.”

And after a fifteen-year absence in Italy, the traveling version of the Italian is in Chicago exhibit will return to Chicago for the conference. The 2007 documentary video, “And They Came to Chicago: The Italian American Legacy” by Gia Amella will add to the visual media presentations at the event.

While the event is free and open to the public, conference organizers request that attendees make reservations prior to November 1. The event will include light lunches, refreshment breaks, a Friday evening reception, and will culminate with Sacred Liturgy in celebration of Italian American Heritage at La Madonna della Strada Chapel at 5:30 pm, Saturday November 9. (satisfies Sunday obligation).

To register go online at  after Sept 1.

© 2013 Casa Italia, Stone Park, IL