Mama mia! 110 years and counting!

Holy Rosary Church to host annual Festa Italiana

Jersey City residents who are so inclined could celebrate a traditional “Old World” Catholic feast almost every weekend throughout the month of July. Local churches throughout the city have already held feasts in honor of Saint Anthony, Saint Anne, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
But the grand dame of them all – at least in Jersey City – is the La Festa Italiana, hosted in August by Holy Rosary Church, the first Italian parish in the entire state of New Jersey.
For more than a century, Holy Rosary, located at the corner of Sixth and Monmouth streets, has hosted its La Festa Italiana. Once celebrated solely by Italian immigrants who wanted to connect with and celebrate their heritage, the feast is now attended by residents throughout the city, regardless of ethnic background or religion.

Like all feasts, food and entertainment are always the two main centers of attraction at La Festa Italiana.
Part block party, part religious observance, feasts are celebrated throughout Italy and pay homage to various saints and biblical figures. The feast tradition was brought to North America when Italians immigrated to the New World. They are still held in cities and towns with large Italian American populations. Some feasts date back more than 100 years.
Jersey City’s Holy Rosary, founded 128 years ago, will for five days this month host its 110th Festa Italiana.

Music and all the Italian you can eat

Like all feasts, food and entertainment are always the two main centers of attraction at La Festa Italiana, although Holy Rosary tries to make its feast among the largest.
Each night, the feast, which begins on Aug. 14 and continues through Aug. 18, will feature nightly fun that will include such popular delights as rice balls, zeppoles, homemade desserts from Caffe Italiano, and fresh mozzarella.
In addition to the food, each night of the feast will feature a headlining musical act.
Everybody’s Everything kicks off the feast on Wednesday, Aug. 14. The Toga Party Band will perform on Thursday. Aug. 15. Total Soul will perform a set filled with R&B, Motown hits, and big band jazz standards on Friday, Aug. 16.
The Jersey Sound will take center stage on Saturday, Aug. 17 and the Cameos will finish off Sunday, Aug. 18 with their repertoire of golden hits from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.

Reunion and prayer

On Sat, Aug. 17, parishioners who attended Ferris High School are welcome back to the neighborhood to reconnect with old friends at the 4th annual All-Year Reunion Night held at the Holy Rosary Parish Center. Pictures taken of the parish and the old neighborhood will also be on sale at the Vintage Photo Gallery, a terrific keepsake for feast-goers.
La Festa Italiana will also hold special masses to venerate the feast days of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Rocco. Feast-goers can express their spirituality and devotion by attending a Mass, purchasing a Memorial Candle for a loved one or sending prayers skyward with Memorial Balloons.
A Novena featuring nine guest celebrants will take place Aug. 6-14. The Feast of the Assumption Mass will take place on Thurs, Aug. 15 at 11 am. The Mass will be celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop of Newark Thomas A. Donato, a son of Holy Rosary Church. A Triduum will be held three days prior to St. Rocco Feast Day, Aug. 13, 14 and 15. A Feast Day Mass will be held for St. Rocco on Fri, Aug. 16 at 11 am, celebrated by Rev. Jurek Zaslona, Pastor of Holy Rosary Church.
Following the 11 am Mass on Thurs, Aug. 15, the Holy Day of Obligation, the Most Rev. Thomas A. Donato, Auxiliary Bishop of Newark will bless Memorial Balloons donated by parishioners in memory of a loved one’s passing and in honor of someone important in their lives. More than 300 people annually participate in the Memorial Balloons launch which takes place at the foot of the steps of the church where Fr. Donato will give the blessing. After the balloons are released into the sky, a street procession carrying the statue of Our Lady of the Assumption will walk through the neighborhood.
For more information regarding the novena or the 2013 Festa Italiana, visit or call (201) 795-0120. Holy Rosary Church is located at 344 Sixth St.

E-mail E. Assata Wright at

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