On September 6, 2015, Saint Anthony Church celebrated its 100th anniversary. The Scalabrinian Fathers, also known as Missionaries of San Carlos Borromeo, were already established in the Church of the Sacred Heart, in the far north of Boston (1890), when they started to care for Italian immigrants in Somerville. Reverend Nazareno Properzi arrived in Somerville in 1914, two months after his ordination in Italy.
After meeting people, he rented a store on June 6, 1915, he said his first mass. The people's response was overwhelming, and the store's chapel overflowed with the faithful. Two months later, the Italian community moved to a larger building on School Street, with space for an office and a home. Up to this point, Properzi walked from the Sacred Heart in the North End to Somerville every weekend for mass.
In June 1916, Fr. Properzi bought an empty lot on Vine Street (now called Reverend Nazareno Properzi Way). In February 1917, the basement church and a parish residence at the rear of the church were completed on this site. On February 11, 1917, Fr. Properzi and the Italian community celebrated their first mass in the lower church. It rained so much that Fr. Properzi recalled that half the church was flooded. "The choir could swim".
In 1921, the plot next to the church was purchased doubling the size of the church. This acquisition provided a large house for the use of the parish. After remodeling, it provided a large meeting room and office, while the upper floor became the pastor's residence.
On October 4, 1925, just ten years after Fr. Properzi arrived in Somerville, William Cardinal O'Connell came to dedicate the new Church of Saint Anthony built-in simple Romanesque style, containing Carrara marble altars from Italy. In 1927, a new property was acquired next to the church building when, on June 13, 1931, a bronze statue of St. Anthony was dedicated. Another major investment was made in 1937 when the land to build a primary school was purchased. However, the construction of the Saint Anthony's School began only in 1957 and was opened for the first and second grades in 1958. The Sisters of Notre Dame, Namur, who worked at School Saint
Joseph at Union Square, went to the school to take care of it. Adding a spacious convent above the school in 1960.
“On December 21, 1960, Fr. Properzi did not wake up. He was found in his room, with the pen still in his hand, interrupted in his composition of a Christmas violin song that he intended to play that afternoon at the school's Christmas assembly ”.
Father John Bocciarelli, who was assigned to the parish in 1953, and was appointed pastor on January 5, 1961. John was well acquainted with the late pastor's unfinished pastoral program. Francis Fiorentin, who also bought an old building and renovated it as a center and for bingo games to help defray the expenses of the parish.
During the 1960s, six masses were celebrated every Sunday to accommodate large crowds; however, in the late 1970s, the first signs of reduced attendance and reduced income were manifested.
In 1989, Fr. Francisco ended his eleven years as a pastor and was replaced by the priest. Vincent Monaco. The original Italian population served in Saint Anthony was declining fast, as people moved to other cities in search of jobs. During this period of movement, a Brazilian Catholic population began to grow fast in the Somerville area. At the feast of Our Lady Aparecida, on October 14, 1990, the first mass in Portuguese was celebrated in Saint Anthony by Fr. Robert Bouffier. SM. Since then, the Brazilian community has grown bigger and stronger, bringing new hopes and vision to the parish of Saint Anthony.
Fr. Properzi's vision and initiatives are still alive in the Saint Anthony Parish. Parish founded by Italians, supported by the Brazilian community, welcoming new immigrants and living with hope and faith to meet the needs of today's people. On September 29th, a new Scalabrini Assistant and Cultural Center will be inaugurated in Saint Anthony. Its purpose is to serve immigrants and promote American and Brazilian cultures in the community
Today, Americans and Brazilians are joyfully celebrating another milestone in Saint Anthony, our centennial celebration - 100 years - and the Silver Jubilee of the Brazilian Community. Congratulations to all of you!