(A memoir written with the assistance of my father, Reverend Elmo Pascale.)
A church in Belleville, New Jersey, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in November 2014, and my grandfather, Benedetto Pascale, founded that church in 1914. Several years earlier, in 1909, he had traveled from Naples, Italy to Boston and eventually to the mills in Lawrence, MA, where he labored just in time for the Bread and Roses workers strike (I’ll be writing more on this later in a later post).
Immigrants arriving from Italy and looking for a Catholic church often found their way blocked by large Irish congregations (I learned this at a Lawrence Massachusetts Museum that focuses on the textile mills and the immigrant experiences).
When northeastern United States evangelical Baptist leaders observed this situation they took action. They began welcoming immigrants into their churches, identifying young men with leadership potential. They helped the men learn English and finish high school, guiding them through the naturalization process, and encouraging a select few to go into the ministry. Grandpa Pascale was one of these men, eventually attending seminary at a small Colgate University storefront on Deitz Avenue in Brooklyn. Continue reading