For two years I have been trying to get dual citizenship. On my last visit home to New York I found a treasure stack of immigration information from Ellis Island and my paternal grandfather’s naturalization process. Because he filed AFTER his 5 children were born (my father being one of those 5 children), I qualify for Italian citizenship status.
This does not mean I want to move to Italy but it means I can connect to a place of familial heritage and maintain the ability to go back and discover who knows what about my family’s history moving forward.
Italian citizenship is a possibility for the children of children whose parents did not become American citizens until after they were born. Even though my dad was not born in Italy and was born an American citizen, I can acquire Italian citizenship by filing the right paperwork.
The problem I am having is that my dad changed his name after my sister was born. He made a promise to my mother that their children would not grow up with the stigma of being ‘Italian’ which was an issue for them in the 1940s. After WWII everyone was eager to Americanize and leave behind anything that might point to being ‘other’. My father’s birth name was Matteo Cangialosi. In the late 1940s he became legally Matthew Candel.
Faith is like that for me. I want to hold onto the childhood songs and prayers that hold so much meaning for me without being weighed down by the guilt and condemnation of a fundamental faith that was so narrow it left no room for compassion.