Loyola hosts Chicago Catholic Immigrants Conference: The Italians

Loyola University Chicago is sponsoring a major conference touching on Italian-American and ethnic studies called Chicago Catholic Immigrants: The Italians. The conference will look at the waves of Italian-Catholic immigrants who came to Chicago during the late 19th and 20th centuries on November 8–9 at the Klarchek Information Commons, Fourth Floor.

The conference will also analyze the role Catholicism played in the lives of immigrants. The initiative is interdisciplinary and includes presentations by individuals who personally experienced 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, as well as 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.

The presenters will include a number of nationally recognized experts in Italian-American studies, a dozen Loyola faculty members, Loyola students, and a group of Chicago-area priests, nuns, and laypersons active in patrons saint societies and parish activities. Invited guests include:

  • Tony Ardizzone, Prize-Winning Novelist
  • Giuseppe DeBartolo, University of Calabria
  • Mary Jo Bona, Professor of Italian-American Studies & English, Stony Brook University
  • Fred Gardaphe, Distinguished Professor of Italian-American Studies, Queens College
  • Fr. Conrad Bontrager, Archivist for the Servite Order of Priests in Chicago
  • Dominic Candeloro, Library Curator at Casa Italia
  • Ellen Skerrett, Independent Chicago Historian and Author

Also confirmed for the program are: Anne Calcagno, Arthur Cola, Billy Lombardo, Tony Romano, and Samuele Pardini—contemporary creative writers who have used Chicago Italian-American themes in their writing.

Loyola faculty and administrators making presentations include:

  • Anthony Cardoza, Italian History
  • Susana Cavallo, Dean of Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center
  • Wiley Feinstein, Modern Languages and Literatures
  • Al Gini, Quinlan School of Business
  • Anna Clara Ionta, Italian Studies
  • Christina Lombardi-Diop, Director of Loyola’s Rome Studies
  • Robert “Mickey” Lombardo, Sociology and Criminal Justice
  • Elfriede Wedam, Sociology of Religion

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.

Chicago Italian Catholic parish leaders, priests, and patron saint devotees expected to make presentations at the Saturday session include:

  • 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 its theme. The artists of Casa Italia will offer an art show entitled Faith of Our Fathers. After a 15-year absence in Italy, the traveling version of the Italians in Chicago exhibit will also return to Chicago for the conference. Films include the 2007 documentary video, And They Came to Chicago: The Italian American Legacy by Gia Amella.

The event is free and open to the public. Attendees must register prior to November 1 at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/14gmhirENx1gkw2IVs1mh6ch952gPuBP2ilmCIWH8JuY/viewform or call the Hank Center at 773-508-3820. Casa Italia of Stone Park and the Italian Cultural Institute are partners of the event.

Please visit the website at http://ecommons.luc.edu/ccic/ and blog http://blogs.lib.luc.edu/ccic/ for conference information and updates.

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