“The church here was 100 years old St. Anthony Day and your mother and father were married here in the basement church. I saw the picture at your house too. I put your mother’s name on the alter and prayed for all of you. It was a beautiful day for me as this church is also where ma and me always went when we lived in the village. Hope all is well. I will see you someday so don’t worry. Love, Rita”
This is the note, written on a church collection envelope, that my mom recently found tucked inside a card from my Christening in 1988 from my grandmother’s friend, Rita. Inside the envelope was a small pendant from The Shrine Church of Saint Anthony of Padua on the corner of Houston and Sullivan Streets. The year I was born was the 100th anniversary of this church, and this note and pendant was the puzzle piece we needed in figuring out where my mom’s parents were married.
At the time of their marriage, in 1939, the Italians and Irish did not mix. My grandmother was Irish, my grandfather was Italian, and it was so frowned upon that my grandparents decided to get married at City Hall well before this date and told no one. When they decided to get married in the church, the only witnesses were the maid of honor and the best man. However, my mom was never quite sure of the church they were married in. She had it narrowed down to couple of guesses, but we didn’t know for sure.
After finding this note, I took to the Internet and I found The Shrine Church’s Web site. I sent an e-mail, asking if they had any information on my grandparents. I waited a couple months, but received no response. So, like most people these days, I turned to Facebook. Turns out, this church is pretty hip because guess what…they have their own Facebook page. Who knew?
Without expecting a response, again, I sent a message asking for any information they might have. A few weeks later, the pastor responded…Bingo!
My grandmother lived on West 10th St, while my grandfather lived right around the corner on West 11th, and they were married on May 21, 1939. Among other items, the pastor also provided the names of their parents, where they were baptized, and the names of the witnesses. I had to read over this message a couple times, and confirm with my mom, to realize that this information was all correct. Who knew that Facebook would ultimately help us discover all this information? It was certainly not what I was expecting.
So when people ask what makes me want to write, these are the things that inspire me to find out more and share it with others.