La Familia (and good grades, too).
The late Rev. Colombo Bandiera — “Father B” to four generations of West Virginia’s Catholic community — was just as much about the principal’s office as he was the priesthood.
Just into the 21st century, in fact, he was one of the first people you would encounter at Morgantown’s St. Francis Central Catholic School.
There, Father B would be, perched in a folding chair, facing the main hallway.
“Just keeping my eye on things,” he’d say with a grin — and that was years after his retirement.
Bandiera, who died in 2017 at the age of 91, marked six decades of religious life in the Mountain State, and several of those years were spent in and around parochial schools in his north-central West Virginia neighborhood.
Fairmont Catholic, next door in Marion County.
Notre Dame High, in Clarksburg.
St. Francis in Morgantown, his alma mater, where he also taught classes.
In the 1960s, he directed youth programs for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
These days, the legacy of his education ministry is living on by way of Loggia La Vittoria No. 914, of the Morgantown Sons & Daughters of Italy.
The city chapter annually bestows scholarships in his name, and two from University High and one from Morgantown High are the most-recent recipients.
Jason Croston and William Angelozzi of UHS have been named for 2023, along with Alex Bruni of MHS.
Counting Loggia La Vittoria No. 914, there are four lodges in West Virginia of the Sons and Daughters of Italy organization, which traces its very founding to the pursuit and fostering of the educational ideal.
Dr. Vincenzo Sellaro, a physician who practiced medicine in the Little Italy neighborhood of New York City, founded the organization on July 22, 1905.
Scores of immigrants then were still passing through Ellis Island, and one of the doctor’s early aims was getting them comfortable speaking the prevailing language of the land.
Free schools to teach the new arrivals English were founded by the order, which eventually branched out to establish other centers of learning dedicated to civics, in order to better help the sojourners to become U.S. citizens.
Sons and Daughters of Italy lodges across the nation have donated millions to educational programs, disaster relief, medical research and cultural advances, the organization said on its website.