The early Italian immigrants in Worcester attended Mass and Devotions at St. Stephen’s Church (Irish Parish) located on Grafton Hill. As the number of Italians increased, it became evident that a parish would have to be established for them in order that they may work in their native tongue.
In 1894 Father Miglione launched a drive to organize a parish for the Italian speaking people. He worked hard on this project for five years without success.
At the turn of the century, Italians in Worcester numbered about 4,000. In 1904 Monsignor Gioacchino Maffei arrived in Worcester to become spiritual leader of this large group. He at once renewed the project abandoned by Father Miglione. With the help of his people, Monsignor Maffei purchased a building at the corner of Eastern Avenue and Mulberry Street from the Swedish Baptist community. In November 1906 Bishop Beaven came to Worcester, officially established the new parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and blessed the building which was to be the church of the new parish.
As the years passed, the number of Italians continued to grow. It soon became apparent that a new church would have to be built. In 1928, the parish community joined together and donated the funds to build the magnificent Romanesque church that we enjoy today. The cost was $232,000 and was paid in cash.
Monsignor Maffei died in 1945 and was succeeded by Monsignor Carpinella. He came to the parish at age 68 and served until his death in 1955. In his ten years, he was responsible for the building of Mount Carmel Educational Center in 1954, Our Lady of Loreto Church, and was instrumental in the founding of St Christopher’s church in Greendale.
He was followed by Father Erminio Mastroianni. During his tenure, St Anne Church on the hill was no longer necessary, as most of its parishioners had moved away. It was turned over to his care and at one time he was responsible for Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Loreto, St Anne’s, 2 rectories and seven priests. He was one of the first to fulfill the directives of Vatican II in making changes within the church and especially in the sanctuary.
Another directive of Vatican II was that bishops should change pastors after they had been in a parish for ten years. Father Mastroianni was transferred to St Anne in Leominster and was replaced at Our Lady of Mt Carmel by Rev. John Capuano on July 4, 1969. Father Capuano updated the census of the parish with his curates Michael DiGeronimo and Michael Merlucci, initiating an outstanding weekly prayer and healing service in our church. During Father Capuano’s tenure, St Anne’s parish was joined with Our Lady of Mt Carmel to form the present day parish of Our Lady of Mt Carmel / St Ann. He became ill in August 1985 and retired February 1, 1986. Father Capuano passed away on February 7, 1997.
Rev. Michael Bafaro succeeded Father Capuano in August 1985 and officially became pastor on February 1, 1986. On June 6, 1991, Father Bafaro had his long awaited dream come true with the official opening of the newly constructed seven story building-Our Lady of Mt Carmel Apartments, which is located at 50 Shrewsbury Street, adjacent to the church. The building provides 75 low income apartments fully equipped. At the same time, renovations were made to the Parish Center with the removal and conversion of a large outdoor patio into offices on the first floor and the new Italian American Cultural Center on the second floor. Through the guidance of Joan D’Argenis, the new addition of the IACC has and does provide outstanding cultural and educational programs for young and old locally and throughout the state.
Today the OLMC Parish is a community anchor institution recognized as a thriving gateway to Worcester’s Downtown and to the City’s thriving Shrewsbury Street traditionally known as the “Italian American” Restaurant Row, Mount Carmel Parish continues to be a significantly important role in building our community and as a hub for Worcester’s Italian American population. Our Parish recreation is an epicenter for a host of diverse uses and activities ranging from Youth activities, CCD, Basketball, Adult Bocce, it host the Joe DMaggio Little League field, the Italian American Cultural Center, Art Gallery, a broad base of community events including the India Society, The South East Asian society, African Cultural Education Center activities, Parish Cafe,Host neighborhood meetings, host a Senior Golden Years Club, a food bank, and servers as a election center for voting, and so much more.
Submitted by Norma Guimentaro-Blanchard,
an Our Lady of Mount Carmel parishioner