About 300 Greenwich Village residents and the families of several of the 146 women who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire attended a memorial Mass Friday at Our Lady of Pompeii, where those who perished had once been parishioners.
"A hundred years ago today the families of these young girls and women who died came here to be buried and prayed for. This is their spiritual home," said Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who celebrated the Mass at the historic church.
Their deaths were not in vain because they led to workplace protections for factory workers, Dolan said.
Serphin R. Maltese, 78, of Middle Village in Queens, who lost a grandmother and two aunts in the fire, read the names of all the women who died. Only six days ago, he said, six more names of those killed in the 1911 fire were confirmed.
"Today was an emotional day. On March 25th, a hundred years ago my grandfather kissed his wife goodbye never to see her again," said Maltese, a former state senator. He added that his grandmother's remains were found a month later under the fire debris. "My grandfather went on with his life but he never remarried."
Also in attendance was Salvatore Cirone, 69, of Sicily, who flew in to attend the Mass. He said he lost his grandmother and an aunt in the fire. "I feel a heartfelt emotion today," he said placing his hand on his heart.
Theresa Tenaglia, 62, of Queens, was born and raised in Greenwich Village. She said though the Triangle fire has always been part of neighborhood's history, it was starting to be forgotten.
"My roots are here. My heart is here. I feel that I'm finally paying my respects and having a moment of silence for the beautiful young people that died that day," Tenaglia said.