Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is the patron saint of the Bronx’s Belmont neighborhood. The original Mt. Carmel is in Israel named because it was the first place dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, but the parish dedications to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel refer to her appearance in the 12th century in England to St. Simon Stock who was a member of the Carmelite Order.
Simon Stock's enduring fame came from an apparition he had in Cambridge, England, on July 16, 1251, at a time when the Carmelite Order was being oppressed. In it the Virgin Mary appeared to him holding the brown scapular in one hand. Our Lady of Mt. Carmel has been revered by Italians for many centuries and was introduced to America by immigrants, The official Saint’s feast day of all Mt. Carmel parishes is on July 16.
History of The Church of Mt. Carmel
In 1900 a committee was formed headed by Mr. Pietro Cinelli to ask Father Daniel F. X. Burke, the Italian-speaking Pastor of St. Philip Neri, to open a mission in Belmont. Father Burke realized the need, and petitioned Archbishop John J. Farley, who kindly granted the request. The mission was opened and the first Mass was celebrated by Father Joseph Caffuzzi on June 13, 1906 in a store front at 659 E. 187 St. From the store front, a basement Church was built on 187 St. and Belmont Ave. in 1907. The upper Church was built in 1917, dedicated to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The initial efforts of Father Burke and Father Caffuzzi resulted in the largest Italian National Parish in the Archdiocese of New York. At the heyday of its history in the 40's and 50's, more than 40,000 Italians made Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on E. 187 St. their parish.
In 1924, Father Caffuzzi with the assistance of the Pallotine Sisters opened the Parish School for 205 children. In 1949 a New School was built by Msgr. Joseph M. Pernicone and an extension was added in 1956 to increase the capacity to 1800. Till this day the parish continues to serve the Italian community of the Bronx and welcomes the new immigrants from Latin America and serves them with the same affection and love that the Italians were received and served by the kind Fr. Burke and blessed Fr. Caffuzzi, the co-founders of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Bronx.