Dear brothers and sisters,
Next Sunday, July 16, we will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, our parish’s Patronal Feast. This occasion holds significant meaning for our community and is one of the most cherished annual events we have.
Throughout history, Mary has been honored under various titles. “Our Lady of Mount Carmel” originates from the remarkable experience of the prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel, located in present-day northwestern Israel. Elijah challenged the worshipers of false gods to a contest, calling upon their gods to light a fire for the holocaust offering. In a demonstration of unwavering faith, Elijah drenched his own wood and offering with water before invoking the Lord, who promptly answered with fire. Since then, the mountain has been revered as sacred, attracting hermits who dedicated their lives to austerity and prayer.
Centuries later, when the Carmelite Order was established, they adopted Our Lady of Mount Carmel as a representation of their spirituality, which encompasses both Marian devotion and deep contemplation. Since the 15th century, devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel has focused on the Brown Scapular. According to tradition, Mary bestowed the Scapular upon Saint Simon Stock as a sign of her divine love and protection. Wearing the Scapular carries a host of promises, with the foremost being eternal salvation through the intercession of our heavenly Mother.
Devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel has always been a defining characteristic of our parish. When our parish and school were founded, our Founding Fathers chose to entrust the community to Our Lady under this title. For the past 183 years, the people of our parish have sought her protection and guidance, finding solace in this particular title. Today, this devotion continues to hold deep significance for most of our parishioners, particularly those of Italian, Hispanic, Vietnamese, Czech, and Filipino backgrounds, as these cultural groups have had strong ties to the Carmelite Order and its lay associations down the centuries.
I am thrilled to announce that on this highly anticipated Feast Day, we will be graced with the presence of two esteemed guests: Bishop Robert Brennan, the Chief Shepherd of our Diocese, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. The arrival of our beloved Bishop and, most notably, the Personal Representative of Pope Francis himself, will undoubtedly fill our community with extraordinary grace. Additionally, we will be joined by Bishop Raymond F. Chappetto, a native son of our parish, and other distinguished guests who have maintained a special connection with us over the years.
I wholeheartedly urge every one of you to mark your calendars for the grand celebrations next Sunday, which include a Solemn Procession starting from Mary’s Garden at 3PM, accompanied by Mariachi music; a Solemn Mass at 4PM by His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio, who will preside over the consecration of more than one hundred parishioners and bestow upon them the Sacred Scapulars; and, finally, an Evening of Festivities in the Institute, featuring an array of captivating music, dances, and selections of international food that will bring delight to everyone.
Together, let us pay homage to Our Lady in ways that resonate with her heart. May the celebration of our parish’s Patronal Feast be an occasion of grace and conversion for each of us.
Msgr. Cuong M. Pham