A local tradition like no other, the Feast of Our Lady Mount Carmel and San Paolino di Nola has officially been canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The annual Italian-American celebration has taken place for the past 117 years in Williamsburg, and on Sunday, the pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel announced the cancellation in a letter posted on social media. “We await word from the City on what we may plan in the future and will revisit our options closer to the Fall,” pastor Jamie Gigantiello wrote. This marks the first OLMC Feast cancellation since WWII.
A shortage of volunteer lifters threatened the main event in 2019, but a volunteer drive successfully recruited enough people to carry the four-ton giglio.
“The cancellation of this year’s feast was a painful decision for our committee and it is certainly painful for those of our community who look forward to this tradition each year,” John Perrone, a rep for OLMC Feast said. “From a financial perspective, the feast is the main revenue source of our Parish as well. Our hope is to potentially have the ability to celebrate, on some scale, later in the year.”
Read the full letter on the OLMC Feast’s cancellation here:
Dear Parishioners and Members of our Feast Family,I hope this letter finds you safe and well. Throughout this terrible crisis, I have prayed often for all the loved ones in my life; all the wonderful parishioners of Our Lady of MountCarmel-Annunciation Blessed Virgin Mary and all the faithful supporters of our Feast. Sadly, the virus has affected so many people close to us. My prayers are with you all.
It is with a heavy heart that I share that the annual Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in July has been cancelled. I, along with the Feast Executive Committee, reached this painful decision recognizing that the safety of our Parishioners and Feast Family is our number one priority. It has been over 75 years, going back to the time of World War II, since the lifting of the Giglio was cancelled. We are in unprecedented and uncertain times as we were back then. We await word from the City on what we may plan in the future and will revisit our options closer to the Fall.
Besides losing the opportunity to celebrate our cherished Feast, we face another crisis. Unlike most parishes that rely on their weekly offertory, our collections do not come close to sustaining our Parish and we depend mainly on the proceeds from the Feast to keep our Parish running for the year and serve our beloved community. Cancellation of the feast is a financial burden we cannot stand to bear.
So, in sharing this news, I also ask for your help. You have always been there for this Parish and this Feast. We need your financial support now more than ever. I ask you to prayerfully consider making a gift to the Century Board for this year and to participate in our raffles. The monies we raise will all be allocated to sustain the parish and help ensure we can bring back our Feast even stronger than before.
For some of you, making a gift at this time may not be possible, especially if you have been financially affected by this crisismore than others. Know that your past generosity is appreciated, and I pray for your wellbeing. Many of you may be feeling isolated and alone during this time. If you, or someone you know, need pastoral care, I urge you to reach out to me and I will make myself available to you in any way I can.The reopening of our church will be painfully slow; however, I keep my guarantee –the next time we lift the Giglio, it will touch the sky higherthanit ever has before.
With God’s Blessings,
Rev. Monsignor Jamie J. Gigantiello Pastor, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel/Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
P.S. We plan to celebrate our Feast Day on July 16th in some very special way!