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Flo Consiglio Celebrated, Buried
by Allan Appel | Sep 29, 2012 8:55 pm
New Haven’s pizza has often been celebrated over the years but rarely if ever as a glimpse of heaven. It was Saturday, as New Haven buried its matriarch of brick-oven pie, Flora “Flo” Consiglio.
Some 200 people filled St. Aedan’s Church in Westville for the burial mass of Consiglio, owner of the landmark Wooster Street Sally’s Apizza and a signature figure of a passing generation who built New Haven.
“Some say Sally’s pizza may be heaven on earth,” said Father James Shanley of St. George Church in Guilford, a close Consiglio family friend who conducted the mass.
What he described went way beyond the food to an atmosphere of acceptance and love that pervaded the iconic pizzeria, where everyone was welcome without distinction of class, social importance, or sexual persuasion, he said.
Click here to read a full story about Consiglio’s death and her legacy on Wooster Street.
“Of everything that makes us diverse, she makes us one and serving a meal of unity,” is the way Shanley Saturday described the experience of a pie at Sally’s.
After initial prayers and hymns, the casket was wheeled in draped by a simple beige coverlet decorated by a crimson cross. Father Shanley circled it with the censer and asked that people’s prayers for Flo Consiglio’s soul rise to heaven like the incense.
Several mourners recalled how Flo was not fazed by politicians waiting in the long line that frequently formed to get into Sally’s. Poohbahs were treated like everyone else at Flo Consiglio’s democratic establishment, said Sister Pat Thomas, who came up from New Jersey to be with her Dominican sisters, with whom Flo Consiglio was close.
Father Shanley expressed the conviction that “the angel who Flo was to us” would in heaven be met by Saint Raphael. There she would reunite not only with her husband Sal and her many siblings, but also with “deceased New Haven politicians and mayors.”
He painted a picture of a great feast they would all partake in, although pizza was not mentioned.
Thomas read a selection from Paul’s Letter to the Romans at the service, and then remembered the hundreds of Sally’s pizzas that Flo Consiglio over the years put together for the Dominican sisters.
“You’re in charge of the classroom [at Albertus Magnus College]. I’m in charge here,” Thomas recalled Flo Consiglio saying at the restaurant. When the pizzas arrived, they were almost always large, even though the sisters usually ordered a more modest size.
“She was an awesome lady. There’s lots of good pizza, but there’s only one Sally’s. Amen,” said Thomas.
“That [Consiglio’s] generation had not only the faith but the will to build these churches,” said retired Father Vito DeCarolis, who also offered a eulogy.
“We’re living off the fruit of their faith,” he said.
He remembered surreptitiously leaving the rectory at St. Joseph’s on Edwards Street where he was still in training in 1958, against the orders of the supervisory priest, who didn’t want the young priests out on Saturday night in New Haven. When the supervisor fell asleep and began to snore, out DeCarolis dashed to Sally’s.
Leaving the motor running in his car, he ran in to collect the pizza from Flo, and with not enough time to finish the transaction, hurried back out to return before the priest woke up.
He turned to the mourning Consiglio family, seated in the front pews, and said, “I don’t even know if I ever paid for that. It was an honor to have known her. New Haven is better for having had her.”
After the service, the family proceeded to St. Lawrence Cemetery, where Flo Consiglio was buried.
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