President’s Annual Letter
After eight years of enjoying being a part of
our “little” organization it struck me that we
aren’t so little any longer. With over 470
members worldwide we are a much different
organization than when we started. Events during
the past year brought the realization we have a
larger role to play.
Society has accomplished much in preserving the
history, culture and traditions of Craco here in
North America since 2007 including recent finds
of material (see story pg. 3). Although our
ancestors would be proud of our efforts they
would expect no less and also urge us to do
Our Reunion this year centered on the “Lost
Neighborhood of New York” which is a unique
piece of historic research worthy of greater
recognition and more exposure than we have done
so far. We will look at ways to improve how we
share information like this by trying to improve
Looking forward, we will pursue our efforts to
preserve Cracotan culture and history. We have
been chronicling the history of the Crachesi in
North America, filling in missing elements of
our common story and making them available. We
will continue that and seek more information.
The 113th feast of San Vincenzo Martire in New
York City is an example of the Society’s
achievements in maintaining Cracotan traditions
in North America. It is a testament to the
support of the members but in the upcoming year
continuing that tradition will be challenging.
Although the home of the historic statue and
relic of San Vincenzo in New York City will be
closing, reflection on the life of San Vincenzo
and the Crachesi people tells us this is nothing
San Vincenzo’s journeys started in Egypt and his
travels brought him to Italy before marching
into the Alps to meet his fate. Then he was
brought to Rome before coming to Craco in 1792.
In 1901 a relic of his was taken from Craco to
New York City where it resided until 1957 when
it had to move to St. Joseph’s Church. His
movements continued even in Craco where his
relic was forced to relocate from a 200 year old
home to a new place of rest after the Frana.
His devotees from Craco also shared these
travails. After 1500 years on their hilltop town
they were forced to leave for new homes at the
turn of the 20th century and then again in
midcentury after the Frana.
We are a resourceful people who have always
deflected setbacks and turned them into
opportunities. This characteristic is still with
us and we will continue to move forward.
Our Board of Directors’ meetings over the past
month focused on planning and taking actions we
believe important for us.
The recent events have focused us on the
significant responsibility we have of preserving
and maintaining unique and irreplaceable
historic cultural Cracotan artifacts.
We are acting on plans to make the Society
stronger. These include bringing in new
Directors, increasing reserve funds for
preservation and seeking ways to collaborate
with other organizations that will help us
achieve our mission.
However, there is no doubt that we will have to
rely on you for support more than ever before.
We anticipate extraordinary expenses to care for
and preserve the historic relics we are
responsible for protecting. We have already
begun the process for preserving the 114 year
old banner of the Societá San Vincenzo Martire
di Craco and are awaiting more information about
St. Joseph’s Church merger plans before acting
on the statue there.
Since our founding we have been fortunate to
have dedicated members who entrusted unique and
historic materials, photographs, and items for
us to protect, preserve, and share with the
world through the internet. With such reliance
on the worldwide web we will be looking at ways
we can improve our footprint on it and use it
more effectively to reach more people with a
connection to us.
With the recent discovery of historic material
we feel it is important to expand our efforts to
access archived records and materials here and
in Italy. Details about these efforts will
unfold in the upcoming months
Reflecting on our Society’s future needs we ask
you to please continue your support making sure
all your family members and Crachese friends are
aware of the Society. Also, please continue to
participate and support Society events so our
relationships and knowledge of each other keep
Next year represents new challenges but also
wondrous opportunities for the Society as we
continue our efforts to learn more about our
On behalf of the Board of Directors I want to
wish you and your families a wonderful Christmas
season and prosperous and joy filled New Year.
Joseph D. Rinaldi
President, The Craco Society
New Society Director
The Board of Directors announced the election
of Stephen S. LaRocca, Esq. to the Society’s
Stephen brings much to the Society with his
professional background, experience with Italian
cultural groups, and local knowledge of Lower
Stephen is widely known in New York City’s
Italian American community and highly respected.
He has been an outspoken advocate for preserving
Italian American traditions and culture.
Although most often associated with his efforts
as president of the San Rocco Society of
Potenza, Stephen has also been active in
educational panels, events and the subject of
documentaries by the Queens College John D.
Calandra Institute. He is also a regular
participant in many Italian American society
events throughout New York.
Joseph D. Rinaldi, president of The Craco
Society says of LaRocca’s appointment, “Stephen
brings great strength to our Board both
professionally and emotionally at a time that is
important to our organization. His energetic
fervor, experience, and knowledge will help
direct us as we grow from a small cultural
society to a purpose driven organization that
makes a difference at a time when traditions,
cultural identity and historic preservation seem
threatened by the demands of our everyday lives.
We welcome his participation and wise input.
Rare Finds for Year’s End
The Society’s mission to preserve the history,
culture and traditions of Craco and its people
in North America is ongoing. With thousands of
years of history there are an enormous amount of
records, materials, images and stories that need
to be found and preserved.
document we have been seeking, “Breve Storia del
Comune di Craco e del suo Protettore S. Vincenzo
Martire coll’aggiunta della Novena E Responsorio”
a rare 1933 pamphlet with a history of the town
and San Vincenzo was recently given to the
Joseph Rinaldi, Society Vicepresident and his
family visited Craco in October. Pasquale Ragone
surprised Joe with a photocopy of the original
document that was in the possession of Rita
Santoro in Craco Peschiera.
This 39 page pamphlet was compiled and published
by Msgr. Andrea Mastronardi. It served as the
basis for the history of the town and San
Vincenzo for several subsequent authors.
The addition of this rare item to the Society’s
holdings completes all of the 20th century
published material we are aware of about Craco
and San Vincenzo.
The copy provided to us was digitized to
preserve it and make it usable. The text will be
translated and inserted into a revised book
which tells the sory of San Vincenzo and The
Crachese people in North America. This updated
version will include the new material and
information uncovered since the first edition.