In the late nineteenth century, many Italian immigrants settled in Newark. For these newcomers, the Church became a source of community and strength. Feasts of Patron Saints from their paese, or village in Italy, were a tradition that helped make the new country feel more like the old. At St. Lucy’s Church, parishioners held the first Feast of St. Gerard Maiella—the unofficial patron of mothers, children and the unborn—in October 1899, and it has been held every year since. As the decades have passed, generation after generation of Italian Americans return annually to celebrate their heritage and Catholic faith and express their gratitude for St. Gerard’s powerful intercession. In this way, the Feast of St. Gerard, the treasure of their grandparents, has become part of their descendants’ heritage.
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