By: Anthony N. Finazzo
Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA) is the oldest and largest association of American Men and Women of Italian Descent in the United States. Women constitute more than 50 percent (50%) of OSIA’s membership, and the number is growing. Why, then, is our name “Sons of Italy” rather than “Sons and Daughters of Italy?” Because of our history. OSIA was founded in 1905 as “L’Ordine Figli d’Italia,” which is Italian for “The Order Children of Italy.” The name was translated into English in the masculine form (Figli also means sons), and has been preserved as such for name recognition and legacy purposes. The Order Sons of Italy in America is among the largest non-profit fraternal organizations in the United States donating millions of dollars to charitable organizations and youth scholarships. The Order Sons of Italy in America was first established to assist Italian Immigrants to the United States and to encourage and maintain Italian Culture.
Our Madrina Lodge and the West Covina Lodge helped us during the initial formations period. Past State President Larry Romanazzi installed our Lodge on February 19, 1984 held at Salvatore’s Restaurant. Many State Dignitaries were also in attendance for this grand occasion. Approximately one hundred and nineteen members were installed. The lodge was founded by Joanne and Al Coccia, Grace C. Brazell, John Fatone, Past State President, Peter Tubiolo and Past State Deputy, Vince Nicosia The first officers installed were: President Grace Brazell, Vice President Frank Bitonti, Financial Secretary John Fatone, Recording Secretary Joanne Coccia, Treasurer Naomi Libby Treasurer, Ex-President Phil Tubiolo. Trustees were Manny Finazzo, Wendel DeGarmo, Luois LaRovere and, Albert Newman. Carmen DeGarmo and Lucy Federico were the Mistress of Ceremonies. Joseph Bono was our Orator and Charles Pagano served as Sergeant of Arms. Eleanor McSweeney was the Chaplain and Albert Coccia Jr. served as Historian. After a rocky first year in operation the club reorganized and became stable under the leadership and newly elected President, Manny Finazzo and a slate of new board members.
The lodge was able to move forward with the help of many volunteers and fund raising projects. The fireworks booths helped us immensely to raise funds. Bingo was then started which greatly aided our charity fund raising programs. With the City of Fontana and a number of our dedicated members we were able to acquire our new lodge home now named the Joanne Coccia Lodge #2553. Brothers Al Coccia, Ray Coccia, Past Presidents Ron Bitonti, Frank P. Finazzo, Manny Finazzo, the late Rick Masotto and a cast of many eager members started renovation on the hall in April of 1996.
We opened our new hall for business in January 1997. With the help of many members, we have continued to work hard to improve our building. It is considered to be a beautiful building by the community at large and all who use this wonderful hall. It is a place where all of our members can be justifiably proud to call it our home. Late Brother and Past President Rick Masotto served on the Grand Lodge Council as State Trustee-South. Sister Virginia DiBenedetto served as Head State Trustee for the Grand Lodge.
United Lodges of Southern California-Order Sons of Italy in America has 15 Local Lodges located in Southern California. It is the goal of the United Lodges to develop discussion groups, Italian language classes, Italian Folk dances as well as many more cultural programs. Membership offers the opportunity to promote, preserve, and cherish a lasting appreciation of Italian heritage, culture and customs.
You have a standing invitation to visit any of our lodge meetings or functions such as our annual Anniversary Dinner Parties, Bus Trips for Various Events, Columbus Day Festivals, Italian Festivals, Summer Picnics, and many other activities throughout the year. For further information contact any one of our officers or members because we invite you to be a part of this worthy organization. (Please note that our lodge hall no longer exist because it was sold on June 1, 2015 to developers and the Fontana Housing Authority for future senior apartments)
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