Tag Archives: Serphin Maltese

Middle Village ceremony remembers Triangle factory fire anniversary

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Community leaders, activists and residents gathered at Christ the King High School in Middle Village on Wednesday for a moving tribute on the 104th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

The ceremony — hosted by former state Sen. Serphin Maltese, now president of the Triangle Fire Memorial Association — honored the 146 victims of the tragedy that took place on that day in 1911 in Lower Manhattan. Most of the victims were Italian and Jewish immigrant women and adolescent girls working to support their families.

The former senator’s family was personally affected by the tragedy. His grandmother Caterina, 38, and her two young daughters, Rosarea and Lucia, were among the 146 victims who perished in the blaze. Caterina left behind a husband, Nonno Serafino Maltese, and two young sons, Paul and Vito.

The family’s grief was compounded by the fact that Caterina was initially buried in a mass grave at the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn along with six other unknown victims of the tragedy. Nonno Maltese was able to identify his late wife through her wedding ring. She was disinterred and laid to rest with her daughters at Calvary Cemetery.

A monument was later donated by the Maltese family to honor the 36 other Triangle fire victims buried at the cemetery.

Former Sen. Maltese reflected upon the impact the Triangle Shirtwaist fire had on his childhood: “We never realized as kids the enormity of the tragedy. We were always cautioned by our mother to beware of fire, but it was more than that. Growing up on the Lower East Side, no matter how many years passed, there were still elderly Italian women who wore black from the Triangle fire. That’s how long they grieved.”

The ceremony featured moving performances from the Christ the King Concert Chorus, led by choral director and conductor Heather Arzberger. The chorus sang “Counsel to Girls” by Nils Lindberg and “Soon I Will Be Done” by William Dawson.

Playwright, actor and past honoree Lulu Lolo Pascale delivered a riveting one-woman performance reenacting the events surrounding the Triangle Shirtwaist tragedy.

The Triangle Fire Memorial Association presented six honorees with awards, as well as special proclamations from state Sen. Joseph Addabbo’s office, in recognition of their service within the community.

One of the honorees was Joel Sosinsky, secretary and founding member of Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition. Sosinsky and his organization were instrumental in securing permission from New York University to install a public arts memorial on the landmarked building on Greene Street and Washington Place, which housed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

The association also honored local educator Caroline Roswell for utilizing the events of the tragedy as a teaching tool to inspire social justice and awareness in her students. Roswell took her students to the annual commemorative march and ceremony held in the city earlier in the day.

The other honorees included  Dr. Clara Sarrocco, scholar and educator; Rosemarie Iacavone, chair of the Women’s Republican Club of Queens; Diego Lodico, founder of the Italian Cultural Organization Bella Italia Mia; and Drew Nelson, former lieutenant base commander with the NYPD Harbor Patrol Unit and current director of operations at the Catholic Community of North Columbia County, NY.

The ceremony concluded with a reading of the names of the 146 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire victims by Iacavone, Marie Lynch and Stephanie Zgaljic. Dianna Maeurer was also on hand representing Triangle fire victim Fannie Hollander. Maeurer, dressed in a special memorial sash and headband, has carried Hollander’s commemorative shirtwaist in the city’s tribute ceremony since 2009.


Christ the King HS agrees to faculty salary increase

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christ the King High School

Christ the King High School has been doing well financially in recent years and now teachers will see some of that success in their paychecks.

The school announced a pay raise for faculty members with a new two-year contract. School administrators and the Lay Faculty Association, which represents the faculty, came to the agreement, and made the announcement Monday.

“As a result of good faith negotiations, we have come to an agreement where faculty members will have an increase in salary, all the while maintaining a level tuition for students for the next three years,” said Serphin Maltese, the school’s board of trustees chair.

In November, The Diocese of Brooklyn filed a lawsuit against Christ the King to regain control of the school, because the institution has used its buildings for more than just a Catholic high school. The Diocese said that this violates a long-standing contract, but Christ the King said that agreement is void.

The board of Christ the King started to generate cash by opening up continuing education classes such as dance and Spanish, a day care and a preschool. Additionally, last year they started renting space to a public charter school last year, Middle Village Preparatory.

In the last three years the school has made about $3.7 million from these measures, according to Thomas Ognibene, the school’s lawyer. That money has gone to making repairs and underwriting tuition for students.


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Help our vets when they come home

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Serphin Maltese

By Serphin R Maltese

I just returned after an exhilarating experience …a heart-stirring Veterans Day Parade and ceremony in hometown America.  My hometown happens to be right here in Queens County.  This past Sunday, November 6 we celebrated the third annual Middle Village Veterans Parade and it was bigger and better than ever.

We’re patriotic Americans in Queens, probably the most diverse county in the country, and we show it through our many parades and ceremonies on all the patriotic holidays, hosted by our veterans’ organizations and posts in every community.

But needless to say that’s not enough.  At a time when our courageous men and women in the military are serving in foreign lands and laying their lives on the line, with many making the supreme sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re considering cutting costs and benefits to the detriment of those brave veterans and our military personnel.

While proposed plans for charging enrollment fees and reducing and canceling enrollment in VA’s health care priority categories have been scrapped, the real threat remains and we have to be vigilant and protective on all levels of government.  We owe our vets nothing less.

During the Veterans Parade, watching both marchers and spectators was heart warming for all participants, young and old alike.  If only we could maintain that enthusiasm, excitement and pride all year long.

Unfortunately, even as our military men and women continue to fight and die in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have to remind our fellow Americans that not only have our vets endured similar hardships away from home and loved ones, but have also lost valuable years to secure additional business experience – earn longevity credits in professions, unions, workplaces, pensions and benefit plans.

We can’t make whole the veterans who have lost limbs in action, but whenever possible, the least we can do is try to make our vets whole in these critical economic benefit categories.

  • FAMILY SUPPORT, including credit and home mortgage counseling, family survivor benefit plans and support groups.
  • EDUCATIONAL BENEFITS, including tuition assistance and scholarships for them, their spouses and children.
  • LICENSING BENEFITS, including Veteran Exam Credits and extended age and time deadlines for professional licenses.
  • TAX AND FINANCIAL BENEFITS, including tax relief and credits and extension of filing deadlines, re-employment protection and hiring preferences
  • CITY, STATE AND FEDERAL EMPLOYEE BENEFITS, including health care and life insurance benefits.

To those naysayers who may say “That’s too much” or “Too expensive” or “That goes too far,” I ask how far did these vets go to protect our country, our families and our liberty.

Let’s face it, flying and waving flags on two or three national holidays a year isn’t enough of a payback for those who didn’t serve for any material or financial reasons.  More than 42 million men and women have served in our nation’s armed forces since World War I.  They put their lives on the line for you, your family members and our nation out of a powerful sense of duty and patriotism.  Most of them are gone now.  Veterans Day used to be called Armistice Day dedicated to remembering all Americans who served in WWI.  President Woodrow Wilson had proclaimed November 11, 1919 as the first Armistice Day to be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.”

We can never truly repay the debt owed those veteran survivors of our nation’s conflicts.  On Veterans Day 2011, as we celebrate and congratulate those veterans who served their country and lived, let us fill with pride and honor them with the gratitude and support that they so truly deserve.