St. Gabriel’s Lodge to cel­e­brate 90 years

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

Ninety years ago, a group of res­i­dents with Ital­ian her­itage founded St. Gabriel’s Lodge and helped to found the Catholic church of the same name.

On Satur­day, June 2, the lodge, lo­cated at 535 Jef­fer­son Ave., will cel­e­brate this mile­stone an­niver­sary by invit­ing the pub­lic in for a fam­ily style Ital­ian feast.

Doors open at 5 p.m. and din­ner starts at 6 p.m.

The menu in­cludes wine, an­tipasto, salad, Ital­ian bread, chicken Marsala, beef bra­ci­ola, sausage (onions & pep­pers on the side), cheese lasagna, riga­toni with Bolog­nese meat sauce and dessert in­clud­ing Ital­ian rum cake and white cake.

Tick­ets are $30, but reser­va­tions must be made. Call the lodge at 610-326-4137 or Bill at 610-3106164 to make your reser­va­tion.

Mu­sic will be pro­vided by Ni­cola Deside­rio.

But the cel­e­bra­tion will in­clude more than din­ing and danc­ing.

At the end of the month, the lodge’s old­est mem­ber, Philom­ena Bracagila of Stowe will travel to Har­ris­burg to ap­pear on the live draw­ing of the Penn­syl­va­nia Lot­tery at 7 p.m. on Fri­day, June 29.

Bracagila is 90, the same age as the lodge she loves.

And her daugh­ter, Maria, will ac­com­pany her and be the wit­ness the fol­low­ing night, on June 30, also at 7 p.m.

Like Bracagila, many older mem­bers “have much of their his­tory tied up in this lodge,” said Lodge Pres­i­dent Jim Pet­tia. He in­cludes him­self. Pet­tia has been a mem­ber since he was 18 and even be­fore that “I used to go with my dad to the bar and get a soda while he got a drink,” Pet­tia re­called.

“As my life got busier and I went to col­lege, it was the place where we would sit and talk and catch up,” he re­called. “I re­ally have so many won­der­ful mem­o­ries of this place.”

A sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion who is “half Ital­ian,” Pet­tia says there are still mem­bers who im­mi­grated from Italy “and they’ll start to talk to me and I have to say ‘I’m sorry, but I don’t speak Ital­ian. A lit­tle bit of Span­ish maybe,’” he said with a laugh.

The lodge has about 1,200 mem­bers.

“So­cial mem­bers” are those not of Ital­ian de­scent and don’t have voting rights, while “lodge mem­bers” are of Ital­ian de­scent and can vote on lodge mat­ters, Pet­tia ex­plained.

“We’re a non-profit and we raise money for causes, like gifts at Christ­mas for needy kids, and we even do Easter par­ties now,” he said.

The first-and fore­most re­cip­i­ent of the lodge’s char­ity, how­ever, is St. Gabriel’s Church.

“We have no for­mal lan­guage in our char­ter that ties us to the church, but it is un­der­stood, that’s our church, in fact, we named it,” Pet­tia said. “If they need a new fridge, we get them a new fridge. If they need a new kitchen, we do­nate a new kitchen.”

Of course, the kitchen at the

“I re­ally have so many won­der­ful mem­o­ries of this place.”

— Jim Pet­tia, St. Gabriel’s Lodge pres­i­dent

lodge is pretty great too, he said.

“Once a month, we have open kitchen and we also have wing night, and you can come in and or­der din­ner, like in a restau­rant,” said Pet­tia. “It’s a real fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment.”

On other nights, you must be ac­com­pa­nied by a mem­ber, or be­come a mem­ber your­self. The ap­pli­ca­tion fee is only $30 and that is good for an en­tire year.

“If you’re not a mem­ber, you can’t buy al­co­hol,” Pet­tia ex­plained.

He said con­stant at­ten­tion to get­ting new mem­bers and re­cruit­ing vol­un­teers ex­plain why the lodge re­mains so pop­u­lar while other civic and church­based clubs are strug­gling.

“In this day and age, it’s of­ten eas­ier to get peo­ple to do­nate money than their time, so we’re al­ways look­ing for vol­un­teers and mem­bers,” he said.

If you’re cu­ri­ous about the lodge, why not stop by June 7th for the 90th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion?

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO BY PETE LAROSA

Mem­bers of St. Gabriel’s Lodge out­side the well-known build­ing in Stowe show off the 90th an­niver­sary sign.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO BY PETE LAROSA

Philom­ena Bracagila, 90, and her daugh­ter Maria will be back-to-back Penn­syl­va­nia Lot­tery draw­ing wit­nesses in Har­ris­burg on June 29 and 30 as part of the lodge’s 90th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO BY PETE LAROSA

Much of the magic of St. Gabe’s hap­pens in what Pres­i­dent Jim Pet­tia calls “our amaz­ing kitchen” and the ladies who help run it.

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