Deacon Joe Garde honored for Italian heritage, service
Story and photo by Sharon Roulier
FEEDING HILLS – Deacon Joseph Garde of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Springfield was a 2013 recipient of the Serviam Award presented by the Italian Cultural Society of Western Massachusetts. Deacon Garde was one of three honorees feted during a brunch Jan. 5 at St. Anne Country Club, here.
The Serviam Award, bestowed on those of Italian descent since 1991, commends recipients for their service to their community, churches, families and the Italian-American community.
Deacon Garde, 83, was born in Springfield to Italian-American parents Theresa M. (Figoni) and Daniel A. Garde. A graduate of Technical High School in Springfield and American International College, he worked as an Engineer at the New England Telephone Company.
Since 1967 Deacon Garde has been involved in all St. Catherine of Siena’s activities including teaching religious education classes and coaching baseball and basketball. He is also a lifetime member of the Holy Name Society and a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 63.
He was ordained to the diaconate in 1991 and has been the assistant director of the Diocesan Diaconate Program for the last 10 years.
Deacon Garde said that he was humbled to receive the award, noting that there were countless other Italian-Americans who have given of themselves to help others.
“They and other Europeans, with their great work ethics, helped make this country the greatest country in the world. I’m proud of that, like millions and millions of others,” he said.
Upon accepting the honor, he told those gathered that all four of his grandparents came from Italy. And like many immigrants during the turn of the century, they were poor.
“One grandfather came to New York with a dollar in his pocket,” he said, recalling how his grandfather worked for the City of Springfield’s Department of Public Works laying trolley tracks. “He worked sixty hours a week, making ten cents an hour, six dollars a week. And he had six children.”
“And their lives of those immigrants were centered around their church,” he said. “The pastors of all those churches would help those people get started.”
Today, Deacon Garde and his wife, Barbara, have four children and four grandchildren.
State Representative Angelo Puppolo, Jr., and Dr. Rocco Mesiti, also received the Serviam Award.
The Italian Cultural Center’s mission is to foster appreciation, knowledge and respect for the contributions of Italians throughout the world through instruction in Italian history, language, culture and cuisine.