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SCHENECTADY DIGITAL HISTORY ARCHIVE

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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Rev. Anthony S. Spina

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 113-114 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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The parish of St. Joseph's Roman Catholic church, Little Falls, New York, was organized to administer to the spiritual welfare of the Italians residing in this beautiful little city. Mass was first celebrated by its young and zealous pastor, the Rev. Anthony S. Spina, on July 29, 1923. A month of hard labor and propaganda caused the small church to be packed so that nearly one hundred and fifty had standing room only. By patient and persistent employance of his abilities, Father Spina has at this writing (not quite a year since the foundation of the parish) won for himself the warm affection, and intelligent confidence and cordial cooperation of his parishoners. Father Spina has the enviable distinction of belonging to the race of the Latins. He was born in the Province of Avellino, Italy, of Sabino and Giovannina (Farese) Spina, on the 19th day of April, 1892. Not long afterward Sabino Spina came to this glorious country of the United States of America to establish a home. Having arranged a home in New Jersey, Sabino Spina sent for his wife and child. And so, our successful Italo-American arrived here when he was merely twenty-six months old. He grew up under congenial parents until the age of seven, when the care of three children fell to the lot of a widowed mother. Sabino Spina died January 15, 1899. Shortly afterward the mother moved to Albany. The long sickness of the father had wasted what small fortune was garnered and so the mother was obliged to work. This made it necessary to put the boys in some home, and through the kindness of Judge Brady of Albany, they found shelter under the roof of the La Salle Institute (was St. Vincent's Male Orphan Asylum) and education of mind, body and heart, from the good Brothers of St. John the Baptist De La Salle. At fifteen, Anthony left the La Salle Institute to help prepare a home for his mother and his two brothers. His brothers came home two years following. And for about three years all seemed to be going well, when the mother was called to her reward on the 24th of March, 1913. Father Spina had just begun his classical studies, after spending six years at the trades of baker, tailor and carpentry. This knowledge and experience has since served him well.

The orphan children thought it would be hard to make a mark in the world, but confidence in God's providence cured all their troubles. Anthony continued his studies at school through the kindness and generosity of Father W. R. Charles, his friend and counsellor. When he reached junior year in college, he was adopted for the Albany Diocese and sent to the Seminary of Our Lady of Angels. He had never shown any extraordinary ability in studies until he was a junior in college, although he had always kept among the first of his class. But as a junior he gained an honorable mention, and in the senior year he received the Philosophy medal at Niagara University.

In the acquirement of a classical education it may strike one as queer that so many schools were visited: Such as St. Anthony's College, Catskill, New York, Jesuit College, Sixteenth street, New York City, Christian Brothers Academy, Albany, New York, St. Charles College, Cantonsville, Maryland, Niagara University and Seminary of Our Lady of Angels, Niagara Falls, New York. But this is easily explained when we consider that it was done in the interest of speeding up. In fact, two years were gained by so doing.

In the year 1922, on June 10, Father Spina achieved the goal of his desires, the priesthood. He was ordained on Saturday, June 10, in the artistic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, by the Right Rev. Edmond F. Gibbons, together with the largest class in the history of the Albany Diocese. Father Spina was first appointed as assistant pastor to the Rev. Michael A. Bianco of St. Anthony's church, Schenectady, New York. But his ability for gathering the people to himself was soon recognized and he was sent by his superior to form the already successful parish of St. Joseph's, Little Falls, New York. The success attained far surpassed even the best wishes of the most optimistic, and today Father Spina is anxious for funds to build a larger place for his parishoners and a lovelier temple to the honor and glory of God.

Father Spina has always acted as father to his younger brothers and today the confidence he placed in God is amply rewarded. He is a priest beloved by his people. Henry J. Spina is a successful professor of the violin and married to Angelina Di Marco. Both now residing in Albany. James P. Spina, the youngest brother, spent six years serving Uncle Sam in the Philippines. He was active in the Mexican and the World wars. Father Spina had the distinguished honor of uniting his brother James P. and Grace M. Loudis in wedlock, Easter Monday last. James P. resides in New York and is fast gaining the confidence and esteem of a large firm in the Metropolis.

Father Spina received naturalization papers in Albany, January 2, 1919. In politics Father Spina maintains an independent attitude, supporting men and measures rather than party. Fraternally he is identified with the Knights of Columbus, belonging to the Little Falls Council, No. 220. His favorite forms of recreation are music and working among children.

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