American Italian Cultural Center
The American Italian Cultural Center promotes the culture and heritage of the American Italian community by offering Italian language and culture classes, seminars, concerts, and events.
This center will be the leading institution preserving and celebrating the American Italian history of Louisiana.
The impact will be felt through increased awareness of how the American Italian community has shaped local, regional, and national history and culture.
Our values include education, inspiration, high quality, collaboration, and financial integrity.
We provide programming opportunities that allow the community to come together to learn about the people, places, and events of our rich history and continuing significance.
Società Italiana Di Mutua Beneficenza Cefalutana (Organizzata Il 19 Giugno 1887 – Incorporata Il 10 Augosto 1887)
The Società Italiana Mutua Beneficenza Cefalutana is one of the oldest continuing Italian American societies in Louisiana, if not the United States. The society has never changed the old Italian version of its name, ideals or purpose.
Each year for the past 124 years, on the Sunday closest to August 6 the Cefalutana Society celebrates and honors Gesù Salvatore, Patrono di Cefalù. This is the same feast that has been celebrated in Cefalù since the 12th century.
When the first Italian immigrant from Cefalù settled in the New Orleans area, they decided to form an association for the mutual reliance and assistance whereby the members collectively could help any member of their society in need due to illness, funeral expenses and adjustments to their new home.
Today, our benevolence has transformed into helping an incoming senior at Cabrini High School with her expenses in the form of a scholarship award named after our former Presidente, Salvadore J. Serio. In 2017 we had 180 members, both male and female. Our society has members all across the United States.
In keeping with our tradition, the Cefalutana Society limits membership to only those persons born in Cefalù, directly descended from Cefalù, or spouses of a member in good standing.
Contessa Entellina Heritage Association
May 20, 2019 is our 19th anniversary as an organization. We are a member of the American Italian Federation of the Southeast.
We attend conventions and honor a member at the convention who contributed the most effort.
We have Contessa people in other organizations, in our community, all over the United States, in Europe, and in other parts of the world. We reach many people through our website, http://contessaentellina.com/index.htm, the Italian American Digest, through the mail and long distance calls. Dues and contributions go to support our communications network. Photographs are taken to document activities.
We are active as a support group to the Contessa Entelllina Society.
We support activities of other organizations and groups in our community. We participate in the Rosary Congress every year—the St. Lucy Society—the St. Anthony Society—the Rose Petal group of St. Therese, and other groups in New Orleans as we are very civic minded.
New Orleans has been our home since the 1800’s when the Tortorici family came and founded the Contessa Entellina Society.
The Schiro family, with help from Archbishop Phillip Hannan and other interested parties, started our Byzantine Catholic Church here in New Orleans. We have a church in Staten Island, NY, and our main church in Contessa Entellina in Sicily.
We were contacted by an Albanian church through our website and have added them and other contacts to our network. We support the Greek Festival.
We have Contessa people as pastors and priests.
We have people in politics, medicine, law enforcement, real estate, and as teachers and business owners. It would be more difficult not to find a Contessa person involved in something.
We have that Mother Teresa steak in us.
We were made to do good, be productive, and achieve.
We accept those who share our DNA even if it is a little part as sometimes a little goes a long way.
We accept people through association as we have a way of rubbing off on people.
Our main purpose as an organization is to pass our rich history and heritage to future generations and to enjoy all that life affords us in the process.
Joyce Schiro Lucas C.E.H.A. Organization P.O. Box 791146 New Orleans, LA 70179 504-482-7364
Contessa Entellina Society
La Società Italiana di Beneficenza Contessa Entellina (Organized on September 8, 1886)
New Orleans is the home of the Contessa Entellina Society, but its members come together by a circuitous route.
Though it certainly has an Italian identity, its members are direct descendants of those ancient people who populated the Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.).
Though Alexander’s reign was short, it was dramatic, and he left an indelible stamp upon western civilization.
Organized on September 8, 1886, it is among the oldest Italian American societies.
It is composed of the Abreche, Albanians whose ancestors settled in western Sicily 500 years ago, who managed to retain their blood lines within their society, as only the sons of male members are allowed to join.
It is incredible that the Albanians who settled in Sicily were able to maintain their customs while living within a society entirely different from their own.
The resulting aspect is an intense pride in their ancestral roots, culture and traditions.
The town of Contessa Entellina’s coat-of-arms retains its Albanian origin, which includes a two-headed eagle on the background of a warrior’s shield, upon which is mounted a crown. A female sphinx, two snakes in hand, is between the eagle’s heads.
When the Albanians from Contessa Entellina, Sicily, migrated to the United States during the 1880s, there were over 3,000 persons in the town. It was their second great departure — another step farther from Albania.
Resourceful, with high work ethics, they prospered, but in the beginning, it meant adjusting to a new language, customs and laws.
New Orleans was now their home, and they have since become an integral part of the business, professional, religious, and educational communities within the metropolitan area of New Orleans.
It has been estimated that, during the high point of immigration, about 3,000 ventured to these shores.
They soon banded together in a mutual aid society, so that none of their number would be in want of food, shelter, or burial plot.
On the feast day of “Shen Maria a Favars”, or “Santissima Maria della Favara”, they founded the Contessa Entellina Society.
On September 8, 1886, their “Contessiotti” of New Orleans became a reality.
They incorporated the Society on October 22nd of the same year.
Cugini della Siciliana di Abbeville
I Cugini Della Siciliana or The Cousins of Sicily was formed in 1997 after two members discovered that the majority of families of Italian descent living in Abbeville had ancestors who were from Sicily.
Most of the members of the Cugini group are in fact relatives, both close and distant.
The group originated with ten members and their spouses; over the years, some of the original members died and others have come to join the Cugini.
The Cugini group meets the first Wednesday of the month at the various members’ homes.
The host for that particular month prepares an Italian/Sicilian entrée while other members bring appetizers, salads, bread and desserts.
Of course there is also plenty of wine; each couple brings a bottle to the meeting. Guests are always welcome to attend and share the meal with this proud Sicilian group.
While the early meetings focused on various projects, these activities have lessened over time.
However, warm camaraderie and socialization highlight every gathering.
During the first year, at the monthly meetings, each member presented a history of their ancestry to the group.
Then each March for the next several years, at the Cultural Center in Abbeville, the Cugini created displays about their families and included overall historical summaries, pictures and artifacts from their families’ work and hobbies.
One annual event the Cugini continues to sponsor is the “St. Joseph Supper” each March 19th in celebration of their patron saint’s feast day in the Catholic Church.
At these memorial celebrations, present day and posthumous Sicilian/Americans are honored for their contributions to the community as well as their efforts to preserve the Sicilian culture.
At the supper, there are also many traditional Sicilian dishes and sometimes homemade wine to sample.
The most recent project undertaken by members of the Cugini has been the preservation of the Guarino Blacksmith Shop.
Through the efforts of the City of Abbeville Main Street Program, the Guarino family and selected members of the Cugini group, this blacksmith shop was relocated and converted into a museum housing the original implements used in the blacksmith trade. Several members of the Cugini are community leaders in the city of Abbeville as well as Vermilion Parish.
These leaders include our mayor and a member of the police jury.
Several of our members also participate in various civic activities such as cleanest city competition.
In fact, Abbeville won the “Cleanest City” contest among cities its size for 2011.
Our commitment to preserving the Sicilian culture ensures that the Cugini will continue to exist for years to come.
East Jefferson Italian American Society
It was formed in 1977. We are currently celebrating our 42nd year in existence.
This Society was a break-off of the Italian American Society of West Jefferson.
They formed the new Society on the East Bank of Jefferson Parish, and encouraged more members from the East Bank to join.
Charter members were Giuseppe Armenio, John Attardi, Steve Campo, Dr. Anthony Russo, Sal Congemi, Joe Campo, Frank Campo, and Thomas Miceli.
Presently, the Society has over 100 members, including ladies, and our goal is to preserve and promote the Italian heritage.
Annual contributions are made to several charitable organizations in our region.
Our fund raisers consist of motor-coach trips to various casinos throughout the year.
We hold several social functions during the year, participating in the Irish Italian Parade in March. Some members ride on our Parade Trailer, and others march, carrying flower canes.
In April we have a crawfish party, attended by most members and their families and friends.
In September, we participate in, and support the Kenner Italian Hertiage Festa, held in Rivertown, Kenner.
A Christmas party social is held each year.
Our Installation Banquet is held in August, where several achievement awards are presented to members.
In 1934, the presiding president of L’Unione Italiana, Mr. Augusto P. Miceli, Attorney and Author, seeded the thought to formulate an Italo-American, American Italian Ladies Club … “Circolo Femminile”.
On February 19, 1934, the first general meeting of “Circolo Femminile” was held in the “Blue Room” of L’Unione Italiana (Italian Hall), 1020 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana.
On March 13, 1934, “Circolo Femminile” officially became known as “Circolo Elena di Savoia”, named in honor of her Majesty’s Royal Imperial Highness, Queen Elena Di Savoia of the Kingdom of Italy.
Meetings and programs were planned, as well as formulating the club’s constitution and by-laws, and under its name it shall have and enjoy all the rights, privileges and advantages granted by lay to non-trading corporations.
The object of the club shall be to promote cultural, educational, civic, and social activities among its members.
Membership was restricted to Italian loving people of Christian faith.
After World War II, our Italo-American American Italian Organization became known as “The Elenian Club” of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America.
Mrs. Nancy Zeto served as president from 1934 through 1937. She was chosen as the first queen of The Krewe of Elenians.
Many elaborate balls were given at the Municipal Auditorium in New Orleans during the Carnival seasons that followed through the years.
During the period our country was at war, the balls were canceled.
A Queen’s Luncheon is held in the spring each year.
In 1974 the Elenian Carnival Ball was replaced with the Ballo di Natale, to be held in early December.
At this time ten (10) young ladies ages 16-23 are presented as debutantes. In 1999, all former debs were invited by Glenda T. Lubrano, President 1998-2000, to attend the 25th Anniversary of the first Ballo di Natale.
The Elenian Club colors are Red and Gold. The flower is the Red Rose. And the motto is “United as friends for the betterment of ourselves and our fellowmen.”
Greater New Orleans Italian Cultural Society
Founded September 19, 1965
On September 19, 1965, the Greater New Orleans Italian Cultural Society (GNOICS) was born.
A few men met to discuss means to raise funds for the popular Boys’ Town of Italy.
This grand, altruistic gesture ultimately laid the foundation for the Society.
This group of dedicated men aligned with other leaders of the Italian American community to sponsor its first production, the motion picture “Sound of Music”, at the Saenger Orleans Theater, from which they netted $18,000. Coincidental with this noble project, hurricane Betsy whirled into the New Orleans area with horrendous winds that wrought destruction, followed by the flooding of low-Iying areas.
The Right Reverend John Patrick Carroll Abbing, president of Boys’ Town, suggested that, instead of giving the money to his charity, it be used for the hurricane victims.
From such a beginning, the Italian Cultural Society was formed.
The organization quickly increased is membership until it represented a cross-section of the Italian American community in the metropolitan area of New Orleans.
Equally important, the Society, through its benevolence and charitable works, generated a renewed pride in all Italian Americans who learned of its activities.
GNOICS’ sponsorship of various civic enterprises has raised considerable money to help institutions here and abroad.
Some of the recipients of the Society’s generosity are St. Michael’s School for Special Children, Cabrini Day Nursery (founded by St. Francesca Mother Cabrini while in New Orleans), Ozanam Inn, St. Joseph Church (Tulane Avenue ), Cancer Crusaders, Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, American Italian Renaissance Foundation, Boys’ Town of Italy, and the earthquake victims of Friuli, Italy and Gibellini, Sicily.
Its annual St. Joseph Altar, probably the largest ever in the United States, staged during the early years at St. Joseph’s Church on Tulane Avenue, now at the American Italian Renaissance Foundation, is a great attraction.
It has drawn tremendous crowds through the years. This altar also inspired others in the Italian American community to renew this singular devotion established by their immigrant ancestors.
Today, there are numerous St. Joseph Altars in metropolitan New Orleans, all because of the spirit and pride introduced in 1965 by the GNOICS.
Gulf Coast Italian American Cultural Society
The Gulf Coast Italian American Cultural Society was established in 1973.
It was founded by Michael J. Cusimano from New Orleans, Gino Scialdone from Gulfport, Michael Vizzini from Long Beach, the Gargiulo Family, and other Italian American Families residing on the MS Gulf Coast, out of concern for the earthquake victims in North Italy.
The motto “American is a good Italian name” was adopted and a variety of community activities were started.
GCIACS has evolved into a multi-generational club of individuals celebrating Italian heritage and culture throughout the MS Gulf Coast.
From the Charity Bocce Tournament against the Irish to Opera Trips, our group enjoys and promotes cultural awareness and traditions. GCIACS offers Italian language classes to members, cooking classes, and monthly socials also.
Another wonderful GCIACS event is La Notte di Natale Dinner Dance. It is a Christmas tradition enjoyed for decades on the MS Gulf Coast. La Befana has also been known to pay a visit as well.
Our members represent many facets of Coast living and industries all coming together to promote and carry on the Italian traditions learned throughout generations.
Italian American Bar Association of Louisiana
The Louisiana Chapter of the National Italian-American Bar Association is an organization which supports the National Italian-American Bar Association which was founded in 1983 as a non-profit, non-partisan corporation to advance the interests of the Italian-American legal community and to improve the administration of justice.
NIABA members include Judges, law professors, law students, as well as attorneys in both private and public sectors.
The board of directors elected by the members governs the Association.
The Louisiana Chapter of the National Italian-American Bar Association has a banquet each year at which an Italian-American who has distinguished himself in the legal field is honored.
The Bar Association also contributes to a scholarship fund for deserving Italian American law students.
Italian American Bocce Club
In 1992 the Bocce Club moved from New Orleans to its new indoor facilities at 2340 Severn Avenue, Metairie, Louisiana 70001.
The Club has the only indoor bocce courts in Louisiana. The clubhouse is tastefully decorated to resemble an Italian piazza.
Murals of scenes from Sicilia and Capri adorn the walls surrounding the bocce courts.
The Bocce Club’s mission is to promote the sport of bocce throughout the state of Louisiana and the United States.
Its activities include but not limited to sponsoring and running bocce tournaments for the Senior Olympics as well as tournament and bocce leagues for its membership, other clubs, organizations and societies.
The Club is a member of the United States Bocce Federation and its members play in sanctioned events throughout the United States.
The Club runs two leagues throughout the year. Its members play on Thursday evening beginning at 7:00 pm.
The Bocce Club is always looking for prospective members who enjoy competition play, meeting wonderful people and having fun helping others learn the sport.
Membership dues are very affordable. Its members gather on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
Anyone interested in playing Bocce, call Bob Aguelly at (504) 722-4631 for more information.