Non-Italians Are Joining The Italian Catholic Federation
By Paul Larson
MILLBRAE – I’ve been asked this question so many times in the past that it needs an explanation: “How is it that you can be a member of the Italian Catholic Federation (I.C.F. Branch 403 at St. Dunstan’s) with a Swedish name like Paul Larson?” Well, the story goes, I was asked by late Millbrae Mayor Nadia Holober, who was I.C.F. Branch 403 membership chair at the time, to join. The Italian question came up, and I discovered that the I.C.F. welcomes members of any nationality who just happen to be Catholic. I gladly accepted and was honored to become a part of this historically significant organization. Nadia invited me to the next meeting which was Branch 403’s annual soup dinner. I met Nadia at Saint Dunstan’s Parish Hall where Branch 403 assembles every first Tuesday of most months.
Attendance was strong and Nadia introduced me to a good number of key members, all Italian, some of who I knew via serving them and their families at CHAPEL OF THE HIGHLANDS. The top officer in charge was long time President Carla Del Carlo who was responsible for preparing the delicious and hearty soup dinner. After experiencing this great group of people in action (and the food) I jumped on board.
I faithfully attended all regular meetings and quickly learned to stumble through the traditional song, in Italian, “Noi Vogliam Dio”. I was a member for a good number of months when I was then asked to take on the board position of 2nd Vice President (knowing that I was a Past President of the Millbrae Lions Club). I was told to think about it and give my answer at the next meeting. It was flattering to be asked, but I did have a small hesitation about taking on an officer’s position in an Italian organization where all other board members were of Italian blood. I always want to help but felt funny about not being Italian. When the time came to give my answer I brought up my lack of Italian background to President Carla in front of the membership. She said “No Problem”. With out missing a beat, and in her Italian accent, she waved her arms, recited some seemingly magical words in Italian, and proclaimed: “You are no longer Paul Larson, you are now Paolo Larsoni”. Well, with that I felt privileged to be dubbed an honorary Italian and took on the position with no further questions asked.
Formation of the Italian Catholic Federation began in San Francisco in 1924 following a realization that, after years of immigration and assimilation in the United States, the Italian immigrants were at risk of losing their rich Italian Catholic heritage. What began as a parish organization to celebrate the land and customs of their ancestors has grown to encompass branches throughout California, Nevada, Arizona and Illinois. The I.C.F. is a non profit organization whose charitable works enrich the lives of countless numbers of people.
I invite you to learn more at www.icf.org. Membership may be in your future and your support is welcomed and appreciated!
If you ever wish to discuss cremation, funeral matters or want to make preplanning arrangements please feel free to
call me and my staff at the CHAPEL OF THE HIGHLANDS in Millbrae at (650) 588-5116 and we will be glad to guide you
in a kind and helpful manner.For more info you may also visit us on the internet at: www.chapelofthehighlands.com