The Italian Catholic Federation, Branch 392, will present Giovanni and Antonia Favuzzi with their 2014 Mother Cabrini Award. The award will be presented at a dinner dance on Nov. 9 at Porretta’s Banquets in Chicago. For details, call 773-763-0507.
Giovanni and Antonia are being recognized for their apostolic and charitable works in the community, dedication to family and unyielding faith.
The couple has been part of Chicago’s Italian community for many years. They regularly partake in the many feste, religious functions, benefits and cultural events. They come from southern Italy’s Puglia region, a region filled with fun-loving people, where old “masserie,” medieval churches, “castelli,” green olive groves and lush vineyards form an enchanting landscape.
Giovanni and Antonia Favuzzi had simple beginnings. Giovanni Favuzzi was born in the delightful town of Noicattaro, in the Province of Bari. Antonia Gialò (now Favuzzi) was born in Cellamare, Bari, a lovely little town adjacent to Noicattaro. Both towns have a history enriched by deeply rooted religious traditions. Cellamare celebrates the Feast of Sant’Amatore, its patron saint. Noicattaro observes the feast of its patron saint, “la Madonna del Carmine.” Both towns hold jubilant celebrations honoring their patrons.
Giovanni Favuzzi was born into a caring family. From childhood, his parents taught him the importance of family, faith and good ethics. At 16 he joined the Noicattaro Associazione Cattolica, organized by the Cappuccini monks. His involvement in the group served to reinforce the solid values already implanted by his parents. At age 20, he served in the Italian military, where he was able to try out his musical talent by joining the banda militare. He soon realized that, although he liked music, it would never be his life’s profession.
Antonia Gialò was born into a loving family. Devoted parents taught her the importance of family, helping others and religion.
In 1956, the Gialò family immigrated to the United States in search of new beginnings. Antonia was barely 16 years old when they arrived in Chicago. Wanting to make friends who had common interests and spoke her language, she joined the Federazione Cattolica at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church in the old Italian-American neighborhood. Here her faith and moral values continued to strengthen.
In 1962, Antonia returned to Cellamare to visit family. She met Giovanni while visiting her uncle’s farm. Giovanni’s love for Antonia blossomed the moment he saw her. On Jan. 5, 1963, the two were married.
A few months after the wedding, the young couple left Italy for the United States. They arrived in Chicago and rented an apartment near Chicago Avenue and Homan. At the beginning, Giovanni did cement work in high rises in downtown Chicago and took on side jobs, while Antonia worked as a seamstress. In 1966, they rejoiced at the birth of their son, Franco.
After several years, with entrepreneurial know-how and having thoroughly learned construction work, Giovanni opened a small cement business: G and F Cement Company. However, life was not always easy. They too went through some rough periods. However, they conquered life’s many challenges with faith, perseverance and each other’s support.
Even though Giovanni and Antonia Favuzzi experienced some difficulties, they still remembered to help those less fortunate. For more than 30 years, Antonia volunteered at the Holy Trinity Church on 95th and Halsted with the “Feed the Poor” program, donating food, time and service. Her compassion and generosity are to be commended. Despite a heavy workload, Giovanni also helped out at the church as often as he could.
Giovanni and Antonia Favuzzi are also committed to preserving their heritage. In fact, Antonia was involved in the Sant’Amatore Society of Cellamare, serving as vice president for a number of years. It was here that Antonia learned how to organize and operate a nonprofit associazione.
Proud of his origins, Giovanni aspired to bring Noicattaro’s customs to Chicago. With the help of some of Chicago’s nojani in 2000, the Favuzzis succeeded in forming Società della Madonna del Carmine di Noicattaro. Antonia was instrumental in organizing the associazione by putting her past experience to work. During the first years, they observed the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel with simple celebrations. After several years, having raised sufficient funds, they imported a beautiful statue of the Madonna from Italy. With the arrival of the statue in Chicago the festivities became elaborate. A grand festa is now held every July. The feast is a testament to the devotion the nojani of Chicago have for the Madonna. Presently, Giovanni serves as president of Società della Madonna del Carmine di Noicattaro and Antonia is treasurer.
Giovanni and Antonia retired a few years ago and reside in Bensenville. Giovanni and Antonia Favuzzi are caring parents, good citizens and an inspirational couple.