The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was chartered on January 25, 1914 as the fifth Grand Lodge in the Order Sons of Italy in America. The first Local Lodge, the Ettore Fieramosca Lodge # 60 was organized even earlier, in 1910. Over the years, over 230 Lodges would be formed in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.
The Fondo Unico Mortuario, or Mortuary Fund, was organized in 1918 and offered death benefits of $200. In 1924, over 7,000 people were enrolled in this program. By 1935, the death benefits were increased to $500. In addition, many of the local lodges offered sick benefits for breadwinners. In 1959, the Benefit Insurance Plan was established as the Grand Lodge's own insurance company to replace the Mortuary Fund. It offered a variety of life insurance plans and was not based on the per capita assessment that characterized the older program.
The Junior Division was organized in 1931, and over the next half century founded 132 Junior Lodges throughout the state. This represented the most successful effort of any Grand Lodge to recruit youth to the Order; nationwide, approximately 366 Junior Lodges were formed.
Throughout the 1930s, the Grand Lodge raised funds for the Home for Italian Children and the Italian Red Cross. During World War II, the Grand Lodge was active in the War Bonds program, purchasing $140,000 worth of bonds by mid-1942. The Grand Lodge was involved in the Supreme Lodge's successful effort to have the classification of "enemy aliens" removed from Italian immigrants. OSIA members in the armed forces were exempt from dues to the Grand Lodge and the $500 death benefit was paid to the beneficiaries of those who died serving our country. Following the war, members in Massachusetts donated food, clothing, and over $75,000 to war-torn Italy.
In 1946, Grand Lodge membership reached its highest point at 22,000 members.
Beginning in the 1950s and continuing through the 1980s, the Grand Lodge assumed a leadership role in raising funds for the Don Orione Home for the Aged and the Madonna Queen Shrine in Boston. Active in charity work of all kinds, the Grand Lodge also provided relief to OSIA members who were victims of tornadoes, floods, and fires. The establishment of the Charitable and Educational Trust has provided an ongoing vehicle for funding charitable causes. Through the Trust, the Grand Lodge provided needed medicines and assisted in building an orphanage for the victims of earthquakes in Italy. Today, the Trust provides funding for scholarships given to deserving high school seniors in honor of our past Grand Venerables and State Presidents. It also supports the Order's primary charities, including the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Alzheimer's Association, Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, and locally, the Casa Monte Cassino.
Since 1928, the Grand Lodge has produced its own monthly publication, "Il Gazzettino." The title changed in 1931 to the "Sons of Italy Magazine," and again in 1966 to its current name, the "Sons of Italy News."
In 1979, the Grand Lodge established the Commission for Social Justice, the anti-defamation arm of the Order.
Today, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts is made up of over 7,000 members belonging to 68 lodges in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. The State Council is comprised of 18 members, accompanied by 5 State Past Presidents, a State Chaplain, and 15 Chairmen of Permanent Commissions. The Grand Lodge office was located for many years in Boston's North End, followed by a building situated in Cambridge, and is now located at 93 Concord Avenue in Belmont, Massachusetts.
The Grand Lodge is celebrating its 100th Anniversary with several events, including a 100th Anniversary Gala on October 4, 2014 (during October Italian Heritage Month).
Boston, Massachusetts hosted OSIA National Conventions in 1935, 1945, 1951, 1959, and 1973. Five Massachusetts natives have had the privilege of serving as Supreme Venerable and National President: Felix Forte (1940-1947), Joseph Gorassi (1957-1961), Peter B. Gay (1973-1975), Aldo A. Caira (1981-1985), and Philip Boncore (1999-2001).
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