Anthony Scotti is planning to major in civil engineering when he begins studies at Manhattan College in the fall, but the 17-year-old could probably make a good living in sales if he were to choose that field. The San Silverio Committee of Morris Park could not have asked for a better young man to represent its interests in conversations with Catholic New York over the last couple of months.
He was patient, prepared and persistent as he spoke about St. Silverio, a sixth-century Roman pontiff who is patron of the island of Ponza, off the coast of Naples. As natives of Ponza immigrated to the United States, they first gravitated to the South Bronx, where the original committee honoring the saint was established on Morris Avenue there, he told me.
Twenty-five years ago, a new committee was established in the Morris Park area. The committee, which began with just nine members, took St. Clare of Assisi Church as their home base, and they’ve never left.
The feast of St. Silverio on June 20 is marked with a Mass at St. Clare’s and a procession around neighboring streets with the statue in tow and musicians playing. This year’s feast was extra special because Cardinal Dolan served as the principal celebrant and stayed around to join in the procession, despite the wilting temperatures outside. A good chunk of the parish and neighborhood turned out.
Anthony’s father, Domenic, the committee’s president for the past half dozen years and a member for more than 20, said its 50 members had been waiting for the cardinal’s arrival in Morris Park since its initial invitation letter was sent two years ago. “We’re all excited,” he said shortly before the big day arrived.
But the committee’s activities are not limited to the yearly feast, according to the elder Scotti, who is 47. A special Mass is offered at St. Clare’s for committee members on the third Friday of each month at 7:30 p.m.
Father Richard Guarnieri, the longtime pastor of St. Clare’s, has always been a supportive presence, the president said. “When he first came to St. Clare’s, he brought back the old Italian traditions,” Scotti said. “Our committee grabbed onto that.”
Beside the feast, which includes a novena to the saint, committee members also annually assemble a 30-foot Nativity scene on the side of the sanctuary. Work on the elaborate project begins each September. It is another way for the committee’s members to foster the traditions that have been handed down to them.
“Our main function is to maintain the traditions we hold dear to us,” Scotti said.
The idea of carrying on the work begun by his father and his godfather, Jerry Di Meglio, one of the committee’s founders and now its vice president, appeals to the younger Scotti. The 2012 Fordham Prep graduate started helping out with the committee’s work about five years ago and in March he learned that he had been named an honorary committee member at the group’s annual fund-raising dinner-dance at the Villa Barone Manor.
“I never expected it,” Anthony said. “I was very pleased. I was excited and very honored.”
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here