Watertown, Jefferson County
Italian Religious & Domestic Traditions
In 1913, Reverend Claude Sechi became the first pastor of upwards of 100 Italian families in Watertown, a parish soon known as St. Anthony’s Church. Today the church represents the largest Italian American community and the only national church remaining in the Diocese of Ogdensburg. Generations of women—represented by the combined Altar/Rosary Society—have often been responsible for the perpetuation of significant religious and ethnic customs among Watertown’s Italian Americans. Perhaps best known of their celebrations is the annual public Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, for which the women prepare abundant pastries and other traditional foods and participate prominently in the religious procession which ends the feast. These women also prepare the church, the altar, and their own homes for the Feast of St. Joseph, the Feast of the Holy Family, and numerous weddings, christenings, funerals, and other special occasions.
Click and listen to the audio clips below to learn more about St. Anthony’s Church Altar Society:
Jenny Spaziani tells how St. Joseph’s feast was observed in the old country.
Ida Jane Alteri recalls the processing for the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel through the old Italian section of Watertown.