Italian Push and Pull Factors: St. Maria Goretti Roman Catholic Church

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In the heart of a busy intersection, the St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church stands proudly, a tower of ornate brick and stone statuary.  It is the amalgamation of three former parishes: the St. Lawrence O’Toole, Immaculate Conception, and St. Joseph’s Catholic Churches (“Saint Maria Goretti.”).  St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church was founded by German immigrants in 1867, accommodating a surge in Bloomfield’s population during the late 18th century (“Saint Joseph (German), Manchester.”).  The Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church was established in 1906, serving an Italian immigrant congregation.  The first major group of immigrants arrived in the 1900s, with another wave settling in the area before and during the Second World War (Grano, Anthony.).

Italian immigrants came to America in search of better lives.  Because of population growth in Italy, many native Italians were forced to live in smaller and more crowded homes and communities, barely eking out a living.  These men and women were prohibited from obtaining better lives in Italy due to a dearth of financial resources, so they searched for brighter futures elsewhere.  Unfortunately, most Italian immigrants still found poverty upon arrival, being forced by language barriers into unskilled labor and low wages.  However, their lives were still often better than those they left behind, so the flow of emigration continued (Hay, Jeff.)

The majority of Italian immigrants emigrated from Southern Italy, as the 1860 reunification of Southern and Northern Italy led to a government that “favored the North”. Another important factor in this mass exodus was familial ties, as many hoped to settle with siblings and parents who had already crossed the Atlantic (“Immigration Library”).  Due to strong family ties and religious values like those exhibited by the congregation of the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Italian immigrants  gradually integrated with mainstream American society.

1- “Saint Joseph (German), Manchester.” Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh |. Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, 2014. Web. 03 May 2014.

2- “Saint Maria Goretti.” Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh |. Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, 2014. Web. 03 May 2014.

3- “Immaculate Conception, Bloomfield.” Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh |. Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, 2014. Web. 03 May 2014.

4- Grano, Anthony. “Bloomfield, Pittsburgh’s Little Italy |” Bloomfield, Pittsburgh’s Little Italy | La Gazzetta Italiana, n.d. Web. 03 May 2014.

5- Hay, Jeff. “Immigrants from Italy.” Immigration. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven, 2001. 81-83. Print.

6- “Immigration Library.” Immigration Library. The Advocates for Human Rights, 2011. Web. 02 May 2014.


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