St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church
Due to the lack of Italian speaking priests, and the growing Italian population in Fredonia, the Italians felt that they needed their very own place of worship.  The need for an Italian church became a much larger necessity.  Italians at St. Joseph’s were struggling to understand the sermons and grew frustrated with this confusion.  The Italian Immigrants wanted a priest that spoke their native tongue and who would have a better understanding of their heritage.  As a result of this language barrier, the Italians came together to form a church of their own, where language would not be an issue.  St. Anthony’s was the result.  The priests that were stationed to St. Anthony’s were the Scalabrini Fathers.

     On December 2, 1905, the St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church Society was established.  Their task was to organize groups, trustee, and start the construction of their new church.  Some of the trustees included Rector, Messrs, Peter Elardo, and Joseph Lazarony.  Their purpose consisted of laying the foundation of the church.  The Society held a two-week bazaar to raise money for the church.  With some of the money they raised, they donated the first organ to the church (Sardina, 1985).  Nine months later on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1906, Bishop Colton dedicated the church in honor of St. Anthony of Padua.  The Scalabrini Fathers were assigned to this new parish, in recognition of their missionary work (Sardina, 1985).  “The new parish consisted of three hundred Sicilian families, who were formally resided in the province of Palermo”(Censor, 3/28/06).  These families of limited means managed to give all they could to the church, raising $1,882 to aid in the necessities of the church.  The actual cost of building the church was approximately $13,000 to $15,000 (Censor, 1/30/07).  The immigrants not only had enough money to support themselves, but also their church.

    Father Teofilo Glesa became the first pastor of this Italian church in 1906-1911; he dedicated himself completely to the welfare of his parishioners, and to the organization of church societies.  He also formed a parish band.  This Imperial band would be invited to play at parishioner parties.  Of all the social activities and organizations that the church had to offer, the band was one of its greatest form of recreation (Sardina, 1985). 
    Father John Prosseda, became pastor of St. Anthony’s in1911, and remained there until 1915.  He followed in Father Glesa’s footsteps and continued doing good works for the church.  St. Anthony’s’ third pastor, Father Arnaldo Vanoli, succeeded Father Prosseda in 1915.  He accomplished many good things for the church.  He succeeded in reducing the church debt, which was approximately $10,600 (Censor, 1/30/07).  He personally saw to it that improvements on the property of the church were completed.  Vanoli aided in organizing the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD), which guided and taught the young adults in the church community (Sardina, 1985).

     During World War I, Father Vanoli teamed up with the Red Cross to aid in the sufferings of the unfortunate.  Along with the Red Cross, he worked with the YMCA and the YWCA.  Joining him in his crusade were St. Lucy and the Joan of Arc women’s clubs.  Together they shoed garments to be distributed at the Red Cross (Censor, 6/13/17).  His extraordinary efforts in giving back to the community captured the hearts of Catholics and non-Catholics alike and also his parishioners.  In 1920, he was awarded a larger Italian Catholic Church in New York City in recognition of his outstanding efforts (Sardina, 1985).

   There were several controversies that occurred within the church.  One occurrence happened when Father Glesa of St. Anthony’s was accused of striking Antonio Mancuso with a mallet.  Macuso was upset because his name did not appear as a contributor for the memorial window (Censor 3/30/10).  Another controversy that had occurred involved the cemetery.  This issue concerned the burial of Italians in St. Joseph’s Cemetery.  The pastor of St. Anthony’s believed that the land, where St. Joseph’s cemetery was located on, was unconsecrated.  Therefore until, the land was blessed no one could be buried there.  Finally after a few weeks, St. Anthony’s bought land and formed their own cemetery. At this place all of the Italians would be buried properly on consecrated grounds (Sardina, 1985).

    St. Anthony’s parish was founded to meet the needs of the growing Italian population in Fredonia.  These needs included soothing the Italian immigrants in the community.  Their dedication and perseverance pushed them through the social barriers that had been holding them back.  Though the immigrants were struggling, their financial contributions given to the church was a mortgage to the future of their community.  St. Anthony’s Church still stands today, and consists mostly of Italian-Americans.

Religious Development


Fredonia Censor, January 30, 1907,pg5.
Fredonia Censor, March 1906.
Fredonia Censor, March 30, 1910, pg 8.
Fredonia Censor, March 30, 1910, pg 8.
Fredonia Censor, June 13, 1917.
The Fredonia New York Sequicentennial Souvenir historical Book 1829-1979.
Sardina, Father John,(1985). A Book Of Memories: St. Anthony's Church, Fredonia, NY, 1907-1985: St. Anthony's Rectory.