Italian Heritage in New Jersey: Patrick O’Boyle

Now, I know what you are thinking. This is Italian Heritage Month. Why am I highlighting a guy with an Irish name? Stick with me and you will quickly see why.

So far this month, I have highlighted important figures who have been important parts of the foundation of Italian heritage and culture in New Jersey. But I worry about the future of what it means to be of Italian descent. It is up to us as a community to make sure we take what we have learned from the generations before us and carry it forward.

Enter Patrick O’Boyle. Yeah, I know. The name. Like I said, stick with me.

He may have an Irish last name, but he is exactly what we as a community need to make sure our history is not cast aside. To make sure our proud heritage is not forgotten or nothing more than a stereotype in movies. Even better, he is a true Jersey guy.

Originally from North Arlington, he has a strong Catholic faith. He attended Queen of Peace High School. He completed his undergraduate studies at Seton Hall University (another reason I like this guy) and received his J.D. from Seton Hall Law School. He has his own private law practice in New Jersey and is a professor of law at Montclair State University.

He may be an attorney, but I am convinced he is a teacher at heart.

As part of the ensemble that makes up The Italian American Podcast, his knowledge of Catholic history and canon law is simply impressive. His knowledge of Italian history is equally impressive; from food to culture to all that is Italian. Listening to him and the ensemble of the podcast is like sitting back and enjoying a cross between a lecture on Italian culture and eating Sunday dinner.

Patrick is working hard to protect our heritage and has been recognized for his efforts. He is the Vice-President for New Jersey of the Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA) and President and Prior of the Congregazione Maria Ss. Del Sacro Monte di Novi Velia Salerno di Jersey City, NJ, a member of the Boards of the Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere and the Coccia Foundation for the Italian Experience in America, a Founding Board Member of the Sandumanghesi Del Cilento Society, the former New Jersey Area Coordinator and Member of the Youth Activities Board and Young Professionals Council of NIAF, and the Past National Youth Committee Chairman of Unico National, the nation’s largest Italian American service organization. He is also a Knight of the Order of Merit of Savoy, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and a Knight Official of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George and the Order’s Vice-Delegate for the United States.

Patrick has inspired me to take a more active role in cherishing my heritage. I’ll be honest, when my Grandmother passed away, I felt like a lot of my connection with what makes me Italian was lost. A part of me died with her. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. Every few years I made a half-hearted attempt to learn Italian. Needless to say, it hasn’t gone well. I just started up again.

I recently joined the Italian Sons and Daughters of America. As I mentioned, I am working on learning Italian. I’ve picked up on my family history documentation in Ancestry. Years ago I made a family recipe book with all the recipes written out by hand. I’ve been adding to it with recipes that weren’t documented anywhere at the time. I joined the Italian American One Voice Coalition. I am making a conscious attempt at rediscovering and preserving my family heritage as well as my ancestral heritage.

So my lesson to you is this; regardless of your heritage, take a page from Patrick’s playbook. Embrace and celebrate it.

Applications for the 5th Annual Coldwater Conservation School Available Now

NJ Fish and WildlifeThe NJ School of Conservation in Sussex County will again be the host site for an exciting Coldwater Conservation School being offered by the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife and the NJ State Council of Trout Unlimited and its supporting chapters. The School will be held June 26 – June 29, 2014 and is open to youths who will be between the ages of 11 and 14 at the time of the program.

The goal of the School is to foster a knowledge and appreciation of trout and the coldwater habitats on which they depend. Understanding all of the elements necessary for healthy streams and good trout habitat helps students realize the importance of stream and water quality protection, and roles they can play in stream conservation.

Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists and instructors from Trout Unlimited will teach sessions about stream ecology, fish habitat, fish biology and identification, aquatic insect identification, fly tying, fly-casting, and stream restoration. There will also be evening programs where students will learn about reptiles and New Jersey’s black bears.

The cost of the Coldwater Conservation School is only $275.00, which includes food, lodging and equipment for the entire 4 days and 3 nights.

Applications are due no later than April 1, 2014. Students accepted into the School will be notified by the end of April. Last year’s School was very successful with more than 30 participants, so be sure to get your applications in on time!

Information about the Coldwater Conservation School including the official application can be found at: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/conservation_school.htm.

Information about Trout Unlimited can be found at: http://www.njtu.org/ and the NJ School of Conservation at http://csam.montclair.edu/njsoc/.

Questions about the School should be directed to Jessica Griglak at 908-637-4125 x 112 or jessica.griglak@dep.state.nj.us.