Our Lady of Mount Carmel celebration held in Los Banos

cpride@losbanosenterprise.comJuly 18, 2014 

The DES Hall filled with people celebrating the Virgin Mary and enjoying a hearty meal on Sunday.

About 350 members and supporters of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church attended the 81st annual Our Lady of Mount Carmel celebration. The event is mostly a religious observance, but also serves as a social gathering celebrating Italian heritage.

The four-day event culminates with a meal that includes more than 700 pounds of meat and 100 pounds of beans being served.

“It been going great since Thursday’s Tridium until now,” said George Ohlendick, president of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society. “Everybody’s visiting, this is the one time of year many of these people get to see each other.”

The Virgin Mary received the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel after appearing to Saint Simon Stock, an Englishman of the Carmelite religious order, in the mid 13th century. The Virgin Mary presented Stock with the scapular, a sleeveless outer garment of a monk’s habit, which represents a worshipper being clothed with Mary’s attitudes and devotion to Christ.

Tony Mellilo, who is in his 90s, has been attending the Our Lady of Mount Carmel celebration since he was a boy.

“I watched it change from horse and buggy (parades),” Mellilo said.

Until 1993 when the church moved from Fifth Street to Center Avenue, tradition included members of the church marching up I Street to the DES Hall carrying the Our Lady of Mount Carmel statue.

Mellilo said he enjoys visiting with people during the celebration.

A series of Masses and Rosaries are held during the celebration leading up to Sunday’s meal. Tom Faria performed Italian hymms during Sunday Mass.

Maria Pugliese said she loves organizing the Our Lady of Mount Carmel event. This year organizers brought back the prayer area, a corner in the DES Hall with a Madonna and child statue and candles.

“I think it adds so much,” Pugliese said.

The Our Lady of Mount Carmel celebration also included an auction. The proceeds go toward items for the church.

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