„Banateana“ Society

On Sunday, June 18, 2006, was celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of Societatea Banatiana – V. Alecsandri, the oldest continuing Romanian-American organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Society was founded on June 15, 1906 by Romanian immigrants mostly from the towns of Pesac, Sinnicolau Mare, Lovrin, Comlosul Mare, Igris, and Satchinez. In 1913, Society members founded the oldest existing Romanian Orthodox Church in Philadelphia, Descent of the Holy Spirit (Pogorirea Duhului Sfint). Today the Society membership consists of native born Americans as well as older and newer immigrants from all parts of Romania in ages from 19 to 90. In 1993, the Society established a museum which preserves and exhibits all facets of Philadelphia Romanian-American history and culture, and as such, is the only museum of its kind established by a Romanian-American beneficial society in the United States.

After Sunday church services, a traditional requiem (parastas) in memory of all the deceased Society members was officiated in church by the parish priest, Fr. Adrian Grigoras. Afterwards, Society members repaired to the Society museum to pose for anniversary photographs and conversation. In the afternoon, a festive banquet – replete with continental cuisine and Romanian wine – was attended by 60 Society members, their friends and family members. An opening prayer was offered by pastor Don Romeo and followed by the singing of the American and Romanian patriotic national hymns „God Bless America“ and „Pe al Nostra Steag“. Official salutatory greetings were addressed by the local Romanian consul, George Sfedu, followed by a reading of the Romanian patriotic poem „Destapte-te Romane“ by Dan Rad. Toasts to both the past history and the future success of the Society were given by both masters of ceremony, George Radu and (Mr.) Carmen D. Valentino who also congratulated the society’s two oldest members, Catita Rosu and Nicholas Bogdanescu (each 90 years young), as well as the Society’s youngest member, nineteen year old, Dan Rad. Testimonial awards were given to Dumitru Costea and Peter Nemeth each for over fifty years of service to the society. An historical discourse entitled „Four Centuries of Romanian-American Historical Connections,“ was delivered by Carmen D. Valentino, who also displayed an original letter in Latin written in 1748 by the first ethnic Romanian visitor to America, the priest, Samuel Domian while visiting Philadelphia and Benjamin Franklin. The program ended with members and guests singing together the old popular Romanian folksong „Viva, Viva sa trăiască“ („Long live our assembly“). Members and guests were then entertained by a continental orchestra which also provided a variety of Romanian songs and horas for dancing. The officers, members and friends of the Societatea Banatiana – V. Alecsandri look forward to another hundred years of friendship, service to the community, and the promotion of „Românismul“ (Romanianism) in America. The many achievements of the Society are due to the continued cooperation between succeeding generations of established Romanian-Americans and new Romanian immigrants to Philadelphia who take an active and positive role in their cultural Society, church, and American life.

Officers 2006 and 2007: President: Dumitru Costea / Valeria Costea; Vice-President: (Mr.) Carmen D. Valentino; Treasurer: John Bogdan; Recording Secretary: Peter Nemeth / Vivian Radu; Financial Secretary: George Radu; Auditors: John Bogdan, Ted Antoneskou, John Petiu; Committee Members: Nicoleta Rad, John Petiu, Lenuta Nemeth, Flora Mirsch, Elizabeth Costea, Ted Antoneskou, Catita Rosu; Museum Curator: (Mr.) Carmen D. Valentino; Banquet Coordinators: Victoria Chisar, Viorel Vasile, Danalisa Radu; Photographers: Dumitru Rad, Alan Zemel; Translator: Nicoleta Rad.

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