Members of St. Joseph’s Church are preparing for the Our Lady of Mount Carmel celebration next week.
Thursday through July 13, the 81st annual celebration will honor the Virgin Mary and her association with the brown scapular, a symbol of salvation and protection from danger, with food, music and religious services. The Virgin Mary received the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel after appearing to St. 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.
George Ohlendick, president of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society, said he remembers participating in the celebrations by carrying a small Madonna when he was a young boy.
“It’s an Italian thing,” he said. “It’s been going on for so long. It really brings the community together.”
An Our Lady of Mount Carmel statue was purchased by Italian immigrants living in Los Banos in the 1930s. The statue, which remains at St. Joseph’s Church, was bought while the Los Banosans were visiting family in Grumento Nova in southern Italy.
The Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society plans the largest part of the celebration, which draws about 300 people. On Thursday, the Tridium Rosary and Mass at St. Joseph’s Church, 1516 Center Ave., is planned at 6:30 p.m., followed by a reception. On July 11 and July 12, the Rosary will be recited and a Mass celebrated at 6:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.
The Our Lady of Mount Carmel celebration concludes July 13 with an 11 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph’s Church, followed by a luncheon, live music and an auction at the DES Hall, 1155 I St. A rosary and benediction culminate the ceremonies at 4:30 p.m.
“It isn’t as old as the Portuguese celebration, but we have a large group. We have the Italians, the Portugeuse and the Hispanics participate. ... It’s a party,” Ohlendick said.