Immigrants who left the Azores seeking a better life
across the Atlantic may have adopted America as their
new home, but faithfully honor their heritage and
have long maintained a feeling of kinship with those
they left behind.
Many settled on the West Side where those bonds grew
even deeper when officials from Gustine and Angra,
a city located on the Azorean Island of Terceira,
ratified a sister city agreement between the two
Gustine Mayor Fred Souza and his
Angran counterpart, Mayor Sergio Avila, signed
proclamations, exchanged ceremonial keys to the
city and traded gifts during the 30-minute ceremony
on the steps of Gustine City Hall in California.
A large contingent of representatives from the
Gustine Pentecost Society and visiting dignitaries
were on hand for the sister city program, which
coincided with the start of the annual GPS Festa.
The program and declaration, Souza noted,
reflected a common heritage shared by people half
the world apart. "The one thing we have in common
is the people," Souza said during the ceremony.
"They are what makes this unique. They are the
ones who make this special."
Angra is Gustine's
first sister city, but Gustine is Angra's fourth.
Tulare is also a sister city of Angra, Souza said.
"They are a very close-knit people with very strong
ties," he explained. "This reflects their heritage.
You try to remember where you came from and who you
are." The sister city pact has been in the making
for more than a year. "The people over at Gustine
Pentecost Society helped a lot," Souza said.
"They had invited the Angra delegation for the
dedication of their remodeled hall, and thought
it would be a good opportunity to have the sister
city celebration at the same time." Avila invited
Gustine to reciprocate by sending a delegation to
Angra, in keeping with the spirt of "friendship,
goodwill and solidarity" of the sister city
Though largely ceremonial in nature,
the sister city agreement helps strenthen the tie
residents of Portuguese descent continue to feel
for their Azorean homelands, said John Alves.
Alves, who came to the USA from the Azores in
1967, said the Portuguese Americans have embraced
the USA as their new home while still deeply
honoring their heritage. "This is important,"
Alves said of the sister city agreement. "We
love this country, but we never forget our roots."
The annual OLM Celebration which brings thousands
of Portuguese faithful to Gustine each fall has
its roots in the village of Serreta, Alves noted,
which is within the Angran jurisdiction. "We are
a common people with common bonds," he said.
The sister cities share a heritage but few
similarities in terms of size or governance,
Souza explained. Angra, geographically,
encompasses about one half the island of Terceira
and is home to about 65,000 people. In that
sense, Souza said, Angra bears more resemblance
to an American county than to an American city.
And while Avila is the mayor of the council
overseeing the jurisdiction, he added, constituents
in Angra refer to him as the President.
pictures and story from
"The Gustine Press"
July 25, 2002 Issue
The Legend of Our Lady of Miracles:
All about the OLM Society:
Bodo de Leite:
Newly Renovated GPS Hall:
Gustine Adopts Angra, Azores as Sister City:
Pictures of 2002 Festa:
2003 Pictures of OLM Parade of Queens
2003 Pictures of OLM Festa Bullfights