Our Lady
0f
Mt. Carmel & Fatima
Roman Catholic Church


In 1903 Camden saw the founding of the Italian language parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, originally know as the "Italian Catholic Church" that had grown out of the pastoral work done among the Italian immigrants by Father Michael Di Ielsi.  The church building itself was built at 4th and Division Streets around the year 1907, and the bell tower added in 1945. 

The Church was not only a spiritual center but a social one as well. The Young Men's Catholic Club of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church maintained its clubhouse nearby at 825-827 Clare Street, the corner of Clare Street and  Division Street

The Hispanic people of Camden and surrounding area were first served by the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Camden. During World War II, Campbell Soup Company of Camden hired some 300 men from Puerto Rico to work in its facilities. By the end of the war, most of these men had brought their families to the Camden area. At the same time, farmers in South Jersey were in need of manpower and brought workers from Puerto Rico as migrants. By 1953, about 500 Spanish-speaking families were residing in Camden, and several thousand migrant workers were employed in the farms. On February 7, 1953, Father Roque Longo, an Italian priest of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, who had worked in Argentina, began at the invitation of Bishop Eustace to attend to the spiritual needs of Hispanics in Camden. On April 29, 1953, Bishop Eustace erected a national parish for the Spanish-speaking of the city of Camden. Back then, the little congregation held services in a room across the street from the Campbell Soup plant. It later moved to Benson Street. 

Our Lady of Mount Carmel celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1953 as well, commemorating the occasion by publishing a book covering the history of the parish. This could be considered the high water mark for the church, as the original Italian families that founded the church and built its schools and other buildings were beginning to migrate to the suburbs.   

In November 1974, the Benson Street facilities were closed, and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Our Lady of Fatima parishes were united under one pastor at the Mt. Carmel facilities at Fourth and Division Streets. Both parishes continue to exist, but most Masses are attended by Hispanics with small numbers of people of Italian descent.

In 1957, for example, parishioners organized the first Parada San Juan Bautista, a parade celebrating St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of Puerto Rico. The Rev. Leonard Carrieri suggested the idea. Today, the annual parade draws thousands of spectators each June. 

Although many of the Italian families who belonged to the church in the past have moved away over the years, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel & Fatima still holds Italian- language services, on Fridays, and has contact with nearly 500 Italian families in the area. 

Located at 832 South 4th Street in Camden, the church is diagonally across the street from the White Housea two story building designed in the style of a Mediterranean Villa, which was the home and place of business of Antonio Mecca, a leading member of Camden's Italian-American community for over 50 years. 

In 2003 Our Lady of Mount Carmel & Fatima celebrated its 50th and 100th anniversaries. With its links to  Camden's past and present, the church will undoubtedly play a critical role in the future of the neighborhood which it serves.

On April 4, 2008 Bishop Galante announced the following changes which affected to churches in Camden and Pennsauken. The changes, taken from the text of the bishop's speech, are as follows:

* Merge the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Camden), Holy Name (Camden) and Our Lady of Mount Carmel & Fatima (Camden), with the primary worship site at the Cathedral and a secondary worship site at Our Lady of Mount Carmel & Fatima.

* Merge St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral (Camden), St. Cecilia (Pennsauken) and St. Veronica (Delair), with the worship site at St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral.

* Merge St. Joan of Arc (Camden) and St. Bartholomew (Camden) with the worship site at St. Joan of Arc.

* Cluster the new parish at St. Joan of Arc (Camden) with Sacred Heart (Camden).

* St. Anthony of Padua (Camden) and St. Joseph Polish (Camden) will remain as stand-alone parishes.


Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Fatima Church

Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Fatima Church
San Miguel School at far right
July 10, 2004

Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Fatima Church
July 10, 2004

Our Lady
of
Mount Carmel and Fatima Rectory

Built in 1958

Click on Images to Enlarge


San Miguel School
&
El Centro Day Care

Built in 1952
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Inside The Church - July 10, 2004
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Click on Images to Enlarge

Inside The Church - July 10, 2004
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In Back of The Church - July 10, 2004
Looking Northwest
from
Spruce & Dauphin Streets

Rear of San Miguel School
at left

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Looking Southwest
from
Rear of Property
(Dauphin Street)

Rear of San Miguel School
and the
Rectory

Click on Images to Enlarge

The Fountain

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The Fountain

Click on Images to Enlarge

Looking Northwest
from
Rear of Property
(Dauphin Street)

Rear of Church

Click on Images to Enlarge

Looking Southwest
from
Rear of Property
(Dauphin Street)

Rear of Rectory and Church

Click on Images to Enlarge



Philadelphia Inquirer -September 18, 1908

First Italian Republican League - South 4th Street
William Knight - Charles H. Ellis - Antonio Mecca 
Henry S. Scovel - Lawrence LaMaina - Rev. Michael DiIelsi
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church


ENTERTAINMENT GIVEN BY PAROCHIAL SCHOOL

Pupils of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parochial School gave an entertain­ment for parents and friends last  night at the church hall, Fourth and Division streets.

The program Included: "I've Got the Mumps," Kindergarten; Polka, Grade 1; primary graduates, Grade 2,; Schottische, Grade 3; Topsy Survy, Grade 4,; Wooden Shoes and dumb bell drill, Grade 5; Waltz, Grade 7; Pantomime, Grade 8; A Holiday Dinner, Grade 6; Tap dance, Tom McKeone, and Class Song, Commercial.

The commercial graduation will be held in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church at 8 p. m. June, 7 with the following receiving diplomas; Helen Brown, Philomena Capone, Emma Carr, Edith Gaspari, Catherine Hammill, Mary, Maroccia, Dolores Morrone, Martha Oberst, Anna Pieri, Grace Roselli, Helen Shemelie, Mary Vaneria and Ray Laviano. The grammar school graduation will be held June 15.

Camden
Courier-Post

June 2, 1933


100 ATTEND RECEPTION HERE TO NEWLYWEDS

Miss Nettie Viggiano, of 269 Division Street, and Anthony Teti, 1131 Christian Street, Philadelphia, were married at 4 p. m. yesterday in Mt. Carmel R. C. Church, Fourth and Division streets.

More than 100 attended the wedding reception in Morgan's Hall. Miss Mary Chaslong was bridesmaid and Nicholas Siteverio best man. Anthony Jennetta was in charge of arrangements. The couple will live at 1131 Christian Street, Philadelphia, after a honeymoon trip. 

Camden
Courier-Post

June 6, 1933

 


KNIGHTS OF ST.GEORGE HONOR RICO MAZZOLO

The Knights of St. George, Branch 347, entertained on Sunday night in honor of Rico Mazzolo, member of the order recently returned from a tour of the United States.

Richard A. Troncone presided as toastmaster. Others who spoke were Rev. J. A. Monaco, pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church; Rev. C. A. Cardelia, assistant to Father Monaco; Fred Scatasti, president of the organization; Matty Adinolfi, Michael Mignogna, Frank Mignogna, Carmen Troncone and Frank Sioli.

Camden
Courier-Post

February 17, 1936


In Show Tonight

MARIE DRAGONETTE

Camden Courier-Post
February 28, 1938

CATHOLIC GROUP TO GIVE
SHOW HERE TONIGHT

Attendance of more than 700 persons is anticipated at a minstrel show to be given tonight and tomorrow night by the Young Men's Catholic Club of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Fourth and Division streets.

In addition to the minstrel show there will be dancing by Marie "Sunshine" Dragonette and the Falco Brothers, and a song and dance number by Armira Regan. In the circle will be George Valianti and Armand Paglione, end men; John Ragone, interlocutor; Joseph Colangelo, Mario di Lodovico, Anthony Cotrambone, Gerald Villano, John L. Gregorio, Joseph Parisi, James Ladik and Louis Valente. Dominic Gregorio is directing the show.


Mt. Carmel Procession

Many people would walk in the procession and there were bands playing music. My mother had a favorite saint, which was Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Every year on July 16th , the feast day of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, my mother had the florist make a big basket of white flowers. This basket would be carried, in the procession, by a strong teen-age girl. Two younger girls, dressed in white, would hold two white ribbons, which were attached to each side of the basket of flowers. 


      Carrying the basket and holding the ribbons was considered an honor and was sought after by many of the little girls. I, of course, being my Mom's daughter, held one ribbon. Mom would usually ask one of my cousins to hold the other ribbon. Many times there were other little girls, also dressed in white, waiting for an opportunity to hold the ribbon if one of the ribbon holders got tired or was exhausted from the heat of the summer day.

We would walk for hours in this procession. People who lived along the route, would come out and give us a drink of water whenever the procession paused. Interspersed throughout the procession were two bands that played music. One was the Valeriani band, which was comprised mostly of older men, and the other was the Mucci Post Band, mostly teen-age boys. There was a good-looking, blond, young boy playing the saxophone in the Mucci Post Band. I did not know him then, but many years later, he would become my husband. His name was John Pontillo.

In the procession, most of the mothers walked behind the saint statue. Some of the women did not wear shoes; their stocking feet would be all blistered because of the hot surface of the streets. They would pray the rosary as they walked. This was their personal sacrifice offered to the Blessed Mother for favors they had received. During the war, their numbers increased because many of the women had sons in the armed services and they would use this occasion to implore the Blessed Mother to watch over their sons.

The saint statue was carried by a group of men that would constantly change because some of them were old and would tire easily. But none of these men wanted to give up an opportunity to show their dedication to the Blessed Mother. The saint statue would stop from time to time so people could pin money on a ribbon sash, which appeared on the front of the saint statue; it was laden with money. The procession lasted for about three hours. These processions were special to our parents because they kept alive the memories of their homeland.

From Growing Up in Camden: Daughter of Immigrants
by Inez Pontillo

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel church which you have listed on the site, always had a procession to honor the feast of the Blessed Mother. The church would have a big procession take place. A band and different holy societies would march from the church site at 4th and Division streets. and they would go all the way down to around Mickle Street, then swing around and come back down 3rd Street back to the church. They would have a very large statue of the Blessed Mother that was  sitting on a platform which was carried by about 6 men. A very large ribbon would be hanging around the statue and people would go up and pin money on the ribbon. There was always a few detectives walking along side the statue, just in case. Many ladies that belonged to the holy societies would walk in their stocking feet throughout the parade. People would line the sidewalks watching. Those were the good old days.

Tony Vendetti
February 2009

In May, 1960, I was asked to carry the blessed mother's crown for Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church May Procession.  The procession took us throughout the streets of Camden.  Maria DeLuca was the May Queen, and she crowned the Blessed Mother statue.  In the summers, every year, there was a bazaar on the grounds of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and School.  In 1959 and in 1960, I was selected to be the lead baton twirler at the bazaar, because I was the youngest in the baton class. 

Nancy Pigliacelli Sinclair
March 2009


My First Communion

It was now time for me to receive my First Holy Communion. Pop had waited eight years for an opportunity to have a big party. Remember when I told you earlier that he postponed my baptism because he was unable to afford a party for me. Well, they had saved and saved for a big party for my First Holy Communion and the time was now.

My Aunts and their families had arrived from Brooklyn and Philadelphia. My other aunts and my mom's friends were available to help, too. Pop had rented the Union of Brotherly Love Hall for the occasion. A plan was put into action.

On the day before the big event, I went with my 

mother to buy chickens. You see, in those days, chickens were bought live. We went to the chicken store and Mom selected about eight live chickens. Jimmy, the chicken man, put them in crates, then loaded the crates in his flatbed truck. Jimmy, Mom and I sat in the front seat of the truck. Jimmy drove my mom and me home. As we were going into my street, all the chickens were cackling in the back of the truck. Many of the children, playing in the street, approached the truck to see the spectacle of the cackling chickens. I was in my glory. For a brief moment in time, I was important. I was at the front of the cackling chicken brigade. The chickens were making so much noise, that it was impossible to hear anything else. I guess, like Sebastian the crab in The Little Mermaid, they knew what was going to happen to them.

My aunts and Mom's friends cooked the big meal for the next day. They worked deep into the night to get it ready. Remember, although we had graduated from a window box to an icebox, we still did not own a refrigerator and food could not be frozen. We had an iceman who delivered ice to our house several times a week and this ice was put into an icebox to keep food from spoiling.

The next day, all of my cousins and aunts came to church to see me receive the Holy Eucharist. I was so proud and so happy. After church, we all went to the hall for the party. Many of our Compare and Comare were there with their children. It seems like there were so many people. Long tables had been set in the room. Three musicians were playing their guitar, mandolin and accordion. I even remember their names. Joe Mignogna, Sam Mastrangelo and Pat Giambrone. The festivities had begun!

It was an unforgettable occasion and Pop would have to wait a long time before we had another such grand party. The next big event would be my wedding reception many years later.

From Growing Up in Camden: Daughter of Immigrants
by Inez Pontillo


Our Lady of Mount Carmel School

I have only my own photo from 1st and 2nd grade at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, none of the class or school and no information about it. My only recollection of those two years was that we had to keep practicing to get under our desks and cover our heads. I do remember having a lot of fun there with many festivities. My first grade nun was Sister Donato and she was nice but I forget the second grade nun and I do remember that I did not like her. That was 58-59 and 59-60 and then we moved in July 1960 out of Camden with most of our friends and family moving in the following few years. 

Loretta Petrillo
June 27, 2009


The Young Men's Catholic Club

The Young Men's Catholic Club of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church was a social club that, in the 1960s, had a clubhouse at the corner of Clare and Division Streets.

When the club applied for a renewal of its liquor license in June of 1967, the officers were as follows:

President Mario Partragnoni 451 Line Street
Vice President Frank S. Fulginiti 1103 South 4th Street
Treasurer Eligio Vassolotti 311 Beckett Street
Recording Secretary Carmen Nocito 7138 Waldorf Avenue Pennsauken
Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Iezzi 713 Locust Street
House Manager Dominic Cerulli 1452 Chesapeake Road
Board of Directors: Nicholas Macrina 434 Pine Street
Dr. Dewey Ragone 525 Pine Street
Fiore Rossi 1178 Haddon Avenue

Joseph Nazzario
in front of his barbershop
at
1211 South 4th Street

My Grandfather. Joseph Nazzario, started his first and only shop on South 4th Street in Camden. The shop  closed up after his passing in 1964. He was a long time parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, and a member of  its Italian Holy Name Society. When I was a kid, I remember going with him to one of his long time customers house, who was confined to a bed for a while. A free haircut and shave was provided free at no charge . The 50th Anniversary Book of his parish was placed on this site in his memory."    

Gene Robison
November 8, 2009

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