An Italian Enclave, A Little Italy, A Vanished Ward, A Church That Was Its Heart And Soul And A Gentle Saint Who Touched Their Lives

Oct 13, 2017 389

BY: Father Thomas Nicastro

Each October countless scattered Italian Americans from all over the United States pilgrimage in what is a joyful return to the “old neighborhood” for the annual feast of Saint Gerard at St. Lucy’s Church in Newark, New Jersey. They come because they wish to express their outward devotion to a gentle saint who has touched their lives and their ancestors’ lives in numerous ways.

Even though the old neighborhood is not thriving as it once did, the Feast of Saint Gerard and St Lucy’s Church provided devotees with a real sense of belonging and a sacred place to reenact traditions, sights and sounds of yesteryear. For over one hundred years, the celebration of this venerable feast has been the spiritual catalyst to bring back to life the “Old First Ward,” the “Italian Brigadoon.”

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