History of The Benjamin J. Ventresca Lodge 2271
In December 1972, while having dinner at Contiís Cross Keys Inn in Doylestown, a group of men from the Doylestown and Quakertown area began to realize there was a large community of Italians living in this area and thought it would be a good idea to form a Central Bucks Order Sons of Italy Lodge. The name decided upon was the Central Bucks Cross Keys Lodge since it would represent Central Bucks County and the Cross Keys Restaurant where it was formed and itís meetings would be held.
With the help of the Grand Lodge in Philadelphia and the sponsorship of the Michaelangelo Lodge, The Central Bucks Cross Keys Lodge 2271 Sons of Italy in America came into existence. At that time there were just a handful of men in the lodge but as word spread, the Lodge quickly grew in numbers.
Although formed as a menís lodge, membership was opened to women in 1975. To give all members an opportunity to make our monthly meetings, we occasionally would have our meetings at other area restaurants. In 1979, we were able to secure a central meeting place at the Father Gallen Council, Knights of Columbus Hall in Warrington, Pennsylvania where we continue to have our monthly meetings.
Since receiving its charter, the Central Bucks Sons of Italy has been active in many charitable activities. Funding for the various Charities we support is possible because of the overwhelming support of our members.
Much of the funds received for our charitable works comes from several activities held throughout the year. Some of these are our Annual Fashion Show, Polenta Night, Pasta Fagiole Night, Villa Roma Holiday and Atlantic City bus trips.
Over the past 30 years our lodge has played a vital part in helping out our community. We have participated in hoagie sales at the Doylestown Hospital June Fair, organized and sponsored the Bucks County March of Dimes Walkathon, held benefits for Italian Earthquake Victims, donated to the Order Sons of Italy Cooleys Anemia and Alzheimers Funds and held several benefits for our own members, as well as several organizations in our community.
To give you an idea of how active and well known we are in this community, a resident of Doylestown, Mrs. Josephine DíOrio Justice left a large bequeath in her will to our lodge. She had no heirs but knew of the Central Bucks Lodge and requested we use these funds for the education of orphaned Italians in our community. To date we were able to fund five students for a total of eighteen thousand dollars in scholarships.
In addition to the DíOrio Justice Scholarship, our lodge awards two academic scholarships to students whose parents or grandparents are members of our lodge. Since its inception in 1982 the John Schultz Scholarship Fund has awarded over fifteen thousand dollars to these students who hopefully will be future members of the Order Sons of Italy in America.
In June 2000, the Central Bucks Cross Keys Lodge met with the Benjamin J. Ventresca Lodge to discuss merging their lodge with ours. The Benjamin J. Ventresca Lodge was started as a youth lodge. As the years went by, its members felt that since the lodge worked so closely with the Central Bucks Lodge (for several years in co-sponsoring the Annual Fashion Show), it would be in the best interest of both lodges to merge.
In December 2000 both lodges agreed to merge and the Central Bucks Cross Keys Lodge became the Central Bucks Benjamin J. Ventresca Lodge 2271.
With the merger of these two lodges we now have a greater participation of membership, a renewed dedication to foster our Italian Heritage, and an ongoing commitment started 38 years ago to let our community know we are here to assist, to care, and to contribute.