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51 years of Italian pride & heritage

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51 years of Italian pride & heritage

Italian Catholic Federation of Manteca president Marilyn Amoral is shown holding two tickets for the polenta and chicken cacciatore dinner fund-raiser on Sunday in the cafeteria of St. Anthony's Ch...


POSTED November 13, 2009 4:35 a.m.

When Ida Queirolo said, “We are a happy group; we are family,” she is not talking about her familial clan.

She was describing a group much bigger than that. It’s called the Italian Catholic Federation in Manteca.

It’s a religious organization that’s also social and service-oriented in nature. And it’s one that’s steeped in the history of the Italian population in the community.

“We just celebrated our 50th anniversary last year; 51 years in October and we’re still going,” said current president Marilyn Amoral who is actually in her second year at the helm after taking over the post from her husband, Dan, who served for three years.

“Membership is down at this time,” with just 83 members, Amoral said.

“That’s still good,” she said, “but we’re trying to have it grow. We’re looking for new members at all times.”

When she talks about members though, she does not mean just individual persons. She’s talking families.

“ICF is the only club in St. Anthony’s that’s a family organization where children are allowed to come (at club meetings). We have heritage programs that we do every month at our meetings when somebody gets up and speaks,” Amoral said.

Preserving the
rich Italian heritage

The topic is usually “how each member or their family got here to Manteca, where the family originated – stuff like that,” she said.

Their monthly meetings are “just getting together; ICF is just a social club. And that’s neat because the other organizations such as YMI (Young Men’s Institute), YLI (Young Ladies Institute) and Knights of Columbus are all strictly for adults only,” Amoral explained.

While YMI and Knights of Columbus target adult members, they do have social occasions when family members are invited to attend.

Christmas is a particularly festive occasion for the ICF members and their families.

“We always have a big Christmas party in December. We always have stuffed stockings and gifts for the children. We wish we have enough children for our youth program though,” said Amoral who took over the presidency last year from her husband, Dan, who held that post for three years. The couple have been ICF members since 1982.

The club’s oldest member is Bianca Jachlich who will be 100 years old in April 2010.

“Yes, she’s Italian, and she still comes to our meetings,” Amoral said.

“Our club’s youngest member is 11. You are invited to come to the meetings whether you’re a hundred years old or a month old,” she said.

Social club donates to many
philanthropic causes,

While ICF is strictly a social club, it also contributes to a variety of civic and philanthropic causes as well as scholarships to area youth whether they are of Italian descent or not.

“You don’t have to be Italian but you have to be Catholic,” said Amoral, clarifying the criteria for receiving a scholarship award from the organization. “You can be a full-blooded Irish, but as long as you’re Catholic you can apply for scholarship.”

According to the bylaws of the organization, 49 percent of the membership can be non-Italian. The membership has to be “51 percent Italian to keep the club going,” Amoral said.

There are two ways college-bound Italian or Catholic youth, ICF members or non members, can apply for scholarship that range from $300 and up to $1,000. One can apply for the $300 scholarship that is offered by the ICF of Manteca every year. To qualify for this award, one has to be a member of the Manteca ICF branch. They can also apply for the statewide ICF scholarship awards which offer $400 for selected college freshmen applicants, $600 for sophomores, $800 for juniors, and $1,000 for seniors. They can apply for these scholarships because the local ICF donates to the statewide scholarship pot, Amoral said.

“My grandson is not a member of our club but he got an ICF scholarship from the statewide ICF,” she said.

The Manteca ICF has also awarded scholarships to local high school students for their college education. And, for the first time, the club also presented a scholarship to St. Anthony’s School this year.

The statewide ICF gave away a total of 432 scholarships statewide this year. “Our club alone gave three – one for $400 and two at $400 each to Manteca students,” Amoral said.

ICF supports seminarians,
Cooley’s Anemia Foundation

In addition to annual scholarships, ICF also supports St. Anthony of Padua Church, its seminarian fund, and the Cooley’sAnemia Foundation which is dedicated to serving “people afflicted with various forms of thalassemia, most notably the major form of this genetic blood disease, Cooley’s anemia/thalassemia major,” according to the foundation’s web site.

The ICF supports the research work of this foundation because the disease “is very prevalent in the Mediterranean (region) and among Italian people,” Amoral explained.

And just where do they get the money to give away to these charitable and educational causes? Mainly from fund-raising events such as the polenta and chicken cacciatore dinner taking place on Sunday, Nov. 15. The event is being held in the cafeteria of St. Anthony’s Church with cocktails starting at 4 p.m. and dinner to be served at 5 p.m.

Donation is $20 per person which will cover hors d’oeuvres, dinner, dessert and wine. For tickets, call Amoral at (209) 612-7770 or Ida Queirolo at 982-5710.

Queirolo’s husband, Tony, will again do the honors of cooking the polenta for the dinner.

“He does all the cooking for our shrimp and polenta dinners,” as well as the dinners served at each club meeting held every last Tuesday of the month. Meetings also take place in the church cafeteria starting at 6:30 p.m. when dinner is served. Members pay “so much – very inexpensive” for these dinners, Amoral said. As with the proceeds collected from fund-raisers, money received from these monthly dinner meetings also goes into the club’s coffers.

ICF membership dues are $32 per person a year, plus $10 extra for each child for those with families.

ICF was incorporated in October 1924 in San Francisco. The first ICF branch was formed at Immaculate Conception Church in that city with 300 members signing up.

The Italian Catholic Federation was co-founded by Genoa-born Luigi Providenza who, according to the state ICF web site, was a radical idealist who rose to the position of Chairman of Italy’s Popular Party, and Father Albert Bandini, “the son of an influential Florentine family who was a scholar, a poet, and an attorney. He came to California to help his beloved Italians at a time when American bishops were calling for the services of Italian-speaking priests,” according to the same web site source.

According to the source, ICF at its peak was made up of 30,000 members in 225 branches in five states.

To contact Rose Albano Risso, e-mail or call (209) 249-3536.

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