July 16, 2023

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace and peace to all of you as we gather to celebrate the glorious Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel this weekend! Throughout the last 183 years of our parish’ history, devoted souls have sought the divine blessing and assistance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, finding solace and protection under her loving mantle. Our parish’s founding fathers, guided by the Holy Spirit, chose Mary as our patron, recognizing her as a powerful advocate and a motherly figure who leads us closer to her Son, Jesus Christ.

In the vibrant tapestry of our multiethnic and multicultural parish, the relevance of devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel shines brightly. Mary’s universal motherhood encompasses all her children, regardless of our diverse backgrounds, languages, or cultures. She unites us as one family, reminding us of our shared humanity and calling us to embrace the message of love, compassion, and unity found in the Gospel.

This Sunday, we have the immense honor of welcoming His Eminence, Cardinal-designate Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. This celebration will be Cardinal-designate Pierre’s first public event following his elevation by Pope Francis last week as a new Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church. Let us rejoice in the Holy Father’s recognition of his exceptional ministry and extend our warmest welcome to him, as his presence among us is a tangible sign of the Holy Father’s closeness and affection for the people of our parish.

As you know, I have had the privilege of working under His Eminence at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC for two years. In my role as one of his secretaries, I have been blessed to witness his unwavering dedication and profound love for the Church. Serving the Church and the Holy Father through him has left an indelible mark upon my human and priestly formation. It was an opportunity for me to apply concretely what I have learned from my years of service at the Holy See to the unique situations of the American Church.

You may also recall that the Apostolic Nuncio visited us a little over a year ago. This marks the second time our parish has been blessed with the honor of welcoming the Pope’s Personal Representative among us. It is a testament to the deep connection and affection he shares with our community.

On this occasion, we are also blessed to have the presence of Bishop Robert Brennan, the chief shepherd of Brooklyn, as well as Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop emeritus of Brooklyn, and Auxiliary Bishops emeriti Raymond Chappetto and Octavio Cisneros. Our beloved bishops, who have been an integral part of our parish, bring their wisdom, pastoral care, and love for the flock. Their presence together here is an extraordinary event, befitting the rich history of our parish, which has been graced by the presence of so many good shepherds who have walked alongside us.

However, let us not be content with merely participating in outward displays of celebration and ritual. May this remarkable occasion ignite within us a deep interior conversion to Christ. May Our Lady of Mount Carmel continue to guide us closer to her Son, Jesus. Let us strive to be her true children, bearing witness to the Gospel as a beacon of faith, hope, and love worthy of our parish’s name.

Devotedly yours in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham