By Tim Harfmann
The pews of Our Lady of Mount Carmel church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn were packed on the afternoon of July 16.
Worshippers honored the Blessed Mother as Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio celebrated a bilingual Mass honoring her namesake in English and Italian.
“Today is a day that those devoters of Our Lady of Mount Carmel are really, very happy. It’s her feast day. It’s a day that they show their love and devotion to Our Lady in different ways,” he explained.
That love and devotion was on full display throughout the parish’s 11-day festival, but Catholics hold rosary beads and raise their hands in praise on this particular feast day.
Outside the church was long line at a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Worshippers waited with great anticipation to pray in front of the statue, pinning their monetary offerings and lighting candles.
To Grace Lugara, a parishioner at the church, the Blessed Mother means everything.
“She’s the mother of all mothers. She’s the mother of heaven and earth,” she said.
“All the Italian people, we got a very, very strong devotion,” explained fellow parishioner Franca Marsillo, who says her devotion also brings mixed emotions.
“Every year, my heart is full of joy and, I cry.”
Franca prayed not only to the Blessed Mother, but remembered her grandmother, who instilled her love for the Virgin Mary while growing up in Italy.
“My grandma was a very, very religious woman,” she recalled, “every morning she used to get up at 5:30 and first go to Mass. Everyday she said the rosary. She taught me a lot of things.”
Now, Franca and her friends are teaching their families, and praying that their dedication to Our Lady of Mount Carmel continues for generations.
As for Grace, she knows that “for us, I think we were all born in the Church. That’s how we grew up. And we keep on going, we keep the faith, and we try to transmit it to our kids.”