By Jessica Easthope
A float carrying Our Lady of Mount Carmel weaved through the streets of Brooklyn once more. Her following followed closely behind. Those who have a devotion to her can proudly show their love again after the pandemic robbed them of this joyous day last year.
“I’m so thrilled, my whole life is dedicated to the Blessed Mother and being able to honor her in our traditional Southern Italian way is a joy for me,” said Stephen LaRocca.
Of the hundreds who walked the more than two-hour route in the blazing sun, La Rocca’s not just another face in the crowd. He’s been following this same path for 35 years – barefoot. Now he gets to share the promise he made to devote his life to Our Lady with Catholics from all walks of life.
“This is what Brooklyn’s all about, the Haitian community is always united with the Italian community in this devotion, it’s a beautiful thing, she’s given me everything Our Mother so I have to give it back,” La Rocca said.
Traditionally during the procession, people wear scapulars to remind them of their devotion and love for Our Lady of Mount Carmel. And with every one that was passed out – a tradition is passed on.
“She appeared to Saint Simon Stock and made promises to protect people who wear the scapular,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.
This time last year the celebrations were drastically pared down – and even though he didn’t know what the future would hold – Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel predicted it would come back bigger and better than ever.
“The crowds we’ve had for the Giglio, the novena, every night of the feast, it’s been just jammed and it’s wonderful to see,” he said.
This year as the band played and people prayed as they walked the streets Monsignor Jamie proudly said his prediction came true.