by Rafaela Prifti
Thoughts on Thanksgiving prayer delivered by Bishop Fan Noli in the Massachusetts Senate in 1952
The origin of the Thanksgiving holiday predates the arrival of Albanians to this land. The early records from the Fan Noli Archive show the first Albanian oldcomers to America were Arberesh. They fled to Southern Italy between 14th and 18th century to escape the Ottoman invasion. “The Arberesh landed in Boston in the mid 1800s”, writes Neka Doko, Albanian Chancery at Fan Noli Library and Cultural Center.
“The second wave occurred later on when a small body of men from the Southern regions of Albania came directly to America, documented in our library as the second Albanian oldcomers of Boston in the late of 1800s. They were the first recorded Albanians from Albania to immigrate to Massachusetts at this time”, says the author in her paper titled In Massachusetts, from Pilgrim Fathers to Noli’s Albanian Journey (Dielli Newspaper, November Issue, 2019)
To bring together today’s theme of the event, the location and the Albanians who made the New World their home, it is appropriate to reproduce part of the Thanksgiving prayer delivered by Bishop Fan Noli, in the Massachusetts Senate, printed in the Journal of the Senate in 1952:
“We thank Thee, O Lord, for the countless blessings Thou hast showered on us. We thank Thee for the privilege of living in this country of freedom and opportunity. We thank Thee for the privilege of living in this progressive State, where the noble spirit of the Pilgrim Fathers still prevails. We thank Thee for the privilege of living in this city of learning, with its famous schools and universities. We beseech Thee to make us worthy of all these blessings, and enable us to use for Thy glory the benefits we derive from our rich environment. Help us to work for the welfare of the Albanian people, for the salvation of humanity, and for the establishment of Thy Kingdom on hearth.”
The origin of the holiday predates the arrival of Albanians to this land. Today we are not less thankful for the “privilege of living in this country of freedom and opportunity” as Noli says in the 1952 prayer. In the 21st century, the preeminent scholar that placed a high estimate on learning would appreciate and advocate that along with giving thanks on this holiday, we give thoughts to exploring its history through well-informed examination and careful consideration.