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OSIA Announces Kickoff To 100th Anniversary In Italy & Gala Dinner

Press Contact: Kylie Cafiero, (202) 547-2900

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2004 ­ The Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the nation's oldest and largest national organization for Italian Americans, announces a historic trip to Italy, kicking off its 100th anniversary celebration.

"It is most appropriate that we return to our roots—Italy, the land of our forebears," says Joseph Sciame, OSIA national president. The countdown to OSIA's 100th anniversary will begin in Rome April 28 with about 150 OSIA members, friends, and prominent Italians, and conclude in New York City at the OSIA founding site on June 22, 2005, the 100th anniversary of the Order.

The OSIA tour (Apr. 21-May 1) will bring more than 150 people to Italy to Palermo, Agrigento and Taormina, all in Sicily. One-third of the Italians who emigrated to America came from Sicily in the early 20th century, including OSIA founder, Vincenzo Sellaro, M.D., a noted Sicilian gynecologist.

After five days in Sicily, the OSIA Pre-Centennial Tour continues to Rome, with visits to Boys' Town of Italy, a papal audience, a gala dinner at the Renaissance decorated Santo Spirito in Saxia, a Mass and concert at the Church of Santa Sabina and a farewell dinner April 30 outside Rome. OSIA officials on the tour also will meet privately with Italy's president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi at the Quirinale.

"We visit with deep respect, pride and admiration for we Italian Americans are the inheritors of great sacrifices made by our parents and grandparents. We have helped make America great, but we have never forgotten our roots in Italy," says Sciame.

The Gala dinner will also recognize the achievements of His Excellency Sergio Vento, the current ambassador of Italy to the United States, for his ongoing support of education, language, cultural and diplomatic initiatives during the course of his extensive international career.

In addition, the noted scholar Prof. Enrico Bruschini, official historian of the American Embassy in Rome, will recognize America's strong cultural ties with Italy and be honored, along with Dr. Annamaria Petrioli Tofani, director of the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

It is anticipated that over 350 guests will attend the dinner, which is co-sponsored by various agencies and business entities in Italy.

Joining OSIA for segments of the trip, including the Gala dinner, will be members of the National Organization of Italian American Women (NOIAW) which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2005.

For further information on the tour and/or the Gala dinner in Rome, contact key coordinators for the event: Vincenzo Marra, Ambassador-at-Large for the OSIA at 212.725.6704 or Joseph Sciame, OSIA national president, at 718.990.1486. Travel agents for the OSIA Pre-Centennial tour are Dimensions in Travel and Gulliver's Travel.

OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 26 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Established in 1905, OSIA has more than 600,000 members and supporters and a network of more than 700 chapters coast to coast. To learn more, visit OSIA on the Web at