Our Lady of Mt. Carmel celebrates 100 years
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel R.C. Church in North Patchogue is celebrating 100 years of being a parish with events throughout 2019, beginning with their evening Mass that was held on Saturday, March 2. The special Mass was conducted by Bishop John Oliver Barres of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
The parish formed out of a need for the Patchogue Italians, who were growing as patrons of St. Francis de Sales, to find their own space. St. Francis was predominantly Irish, but was the only Catholic church in Patchogue in the early 20th century. In 1919, then-pastor James J. Cronin delegated Father A.R. Cioffi to handle the Italian parishioners. He formed the new SS Perpetua and Felicitas, and the first baptism was performed on March 7, 1919.
After given an approval by Cronin, the new parish was required to fund a new building by themselves. Until 1922, Cioffi performed Masses in a West Patchogue garage before commissioning a Gothic-style church with a stucco edifice. In 1922, the parish fundraised for the new building, which was officially dedicated on Dec. 31, 1922. The church could seat 400 and had an upstairs balcony, and cost $40,000. The next year, 1923, the parish began celebrating the annual Feast of Saint Liberata in front of the church, including entertainment and fireworks. Cioffi left the parish in 1923 for another assignment. The name was changed in 1925 to Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
The first priest ordained at the church was Father William Vigliotta in 1954. In 1956, then-pastor Raphael Monteleone, who served for over 20 years, refaced the church with stone, installed modern glass doors, and installed the statue of Mary in front. In 1965, Monteleone was pursuing a new church, and found a 10-acre site on North Ocean Avenue. He purchased the site and construction started in 1966. The parish also changed from being an Italian national parish to a Diocesan territorial parish in 1966. The new church was completed in 1968 and the first baby baptized on May 11. It was later dedicated as part of the Diocese of Rockville Centre by Bishop Walter P. Kellenberg.
In 1978, a shrine to Mary was built in the main lobby of the church, a project led by then-pastor Alexander Sledzaus. The pastor also encouraged the formation of the Knights of Columbus Council No. 8732, which was officially chartered in 1984. The Knights later renovated and moved into the old parish hall that was vacant on First Street, and still remain there today. In 1990, then-pastor Robert O’Connell began the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, which continues annually. In 1992, rooms in the rectory were changed for the creation of the Rectory Store, a place to get religious articles and gifts. In 1993, the shrine on the front lawn was created and maintained by volunteers.
In 2017, current pastor Henry Reid was installed, younger than most who had come before him. He has done a lot of work improving the infrastructure and grounds of the church, including a repaired roof and handicap bathroom. In 2018, he added a Spanish-speaking Mass on Sundays in addition to the regular lineup to accommodate the church’s growing Hispanic population.
“You and I together remember all of those people who have been a part of this parish for the past 100 years,” Barres said in his homily.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel will hold additional 100th anniversary events this year, including the July feast and carnival, and a ball at Mediterranean Manor in September.
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