Saturday, June 09, 2007

This Week in Texas Methodist History--June 10

Rev. Francisco Zito Dies in Rome, June 13, 1926

Most Americans probably associate the wave of Italian immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the cities of the northeastern United States. While it is true that a majority of Italian immigrants did go to that region, there was also enough Italian immigration to Texas to justify the establishment of an Italian mission effort. The term "Italian Mission" appears in the Texas Conference Journals as early as 1903 with an appointment to Galveston. In 1905 it is listed as moving to Beaumont. Thurber, in the Northwest Texas (now Central Texas) Conference, was home to about 3,000 Italian coal miners in 1909 according to the Texas Christian Advocate.

The most successful Italian mission, though, was to Italian farmers in the middle Brazos Valley in Brazos, Grimes, Robertson, and Burleson Counties. Much of that success was due to the efforts of the Rev. Francisco Zito who was received into the Texas Conference by transfer from the Central Texas Conference in 1915 and appointed to the Navasota Italian Mission.

Zito had been converted at a MEC mission in Florence, Italy, in 1891. He was ordained in that denomination and served as a missionary in Florida and Louisiana before coming to Texas.
Zito's main base of operation was the Italian church in Bryan. He recruited another convert, Bruno Martinelli, to the ministry and turned the church over to him while he took an extended leave of absence to return to Italy. He died while on that leave in Rome.

2 Comments:

Blogger Richard H said...

Thanks for providing these interesting tidbits of knowledge.

6:17 AM  
Anonymous J. Martinelli said...

Thanks. My grandfather, Bruno Martinelli, is mentioned in the article. Does anyone have any additional information on my grandfather?

12:42 AM  

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