IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

Feast Day:  December 8

Patron Saint of:  United States

From the first moment of her existence, Mary was perfectly preserved by God from the stain or "macula" of Original Sin and filled with sanctifying grace that would normally come with baptism after birth. The Catholic Church teaches that Mary "was free from any personal or hereditary sin". Mary's Immaculate Conception should not be confused with the Incarnation of Jesus Christ; Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit at the time of the Annunciation. Catholic doctrine teaches that Mary, herself, was conceived by Saint Anne and Saint Joachim.

OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL ORATORY, CLEVELAND, 1936

Established in 1936 to serve the growing Italian-Catholic community in Luna Park District of Cleveland, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church initially was a vision of St. Marian Parish. The community, then secured property on East 110th Street Ingersoll Road (now Mount Carmel road) on which it hoped to erect its campus. In 1938, at the request of the Federal Housing Authority, the community abandoned work on the project and sold the property. Securing a nearby plot Garfield Avenue and Ingersoll Road (now Notre Dame Avenue and Mount Carmel Road), the community began work on an English-Gothic Church, in which it celebrated its first Mass at midnight on Christmas 1939. To lead the community, Bishop Joseph Schrembs appointed Father William O'Donnell, D., a graduate of the Athenaeum Urbanum in Rome, first pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish. During the early years, Father O'Donnell was supported by assistant pastor, Father William Sullivan and four Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity, who maintained the church building and taught catechism classes.

After enduring the difficult years of the Second World War, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish looked forward to an extended period of growth. Tragedy struck the parish, however, in June 1949, when a fire severely ravaged the church. Rallying together, its members spearheaded a campaign which culminated in the rededication of the church in 1950 - an event which coincided with the opening of Our Lady of Mount Carmel School under the action of the Sisters of Notre Dame. In 1961, Father O'Donnell left the parish and was succeeded by Monsignor Francis Cacciacarro.

While the arch's two large bells remained in storage, falling membership and financial considerations forced the community to postpone the construction a new belfry. In the late-1960s, the project finally was abandoned. After six years of leading the parish through myriad struggles, Monsignor Cacciacarro turned over its administration to Father Nazareno D'Angelis on July 1, 1967. During the 1970s, the parish's pastors Father James V. Ragnoni (1973-1974) and Father Frank C. LaRocca (1974-1977) continued to struggle with the problem of shrinking parish membership.

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IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

While the parish made preparations to welcome its last pastor, Father Thomas J. Luckay, it undertook the difficult task of closing its school. Over the next twelve years, a small, committed group of parishioners struggled to preserve the traditions and heritage of the community in the face of mounting financial difficulties. In 1990, Bishop Anthony M. Pilla recognized their dedication and appointed long-time parishioner, Mrs. Rose M. Criniti, parish administrator. Following her Luckay's departure in February 1990, rumors surfaced regarding the parish's closure. In 1991, the community prevented any further plans to close the church, receiving special diocesan designation as an oratory. While it must secure the services of visiting priests, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Oratory keeps alive the traditions of its Italian-Catholic founders, celebrating Mass every Sunday and sponsoring a variety of social functions.