A HISTORY OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL PARISH
In 2005, we celebrated our 100th anniversary as a parish. This event was joyfully and festively celebrated on October 16, 2005. The Third Order Regular Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate Conception Province are pleased that they were part of the parish life for 96 of these years.
The colony of Italian immigrants in Altoona had first been provided for by Fr. Raphael Penta in 1905, when Bishop Eugene Garvey sent him here to care for the spiritual needs of the people. The title of the new parish was Our Lady of Lourdes. Because of ill health, Fr. Penta spent only about six months in Altoona. He was succeeded by Fr. William Cavallo. It was at Fr. Cavallo’s initiative that the name of the parish was changed to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a title of Mary more familiar to the popular piety of the people of this worshipping community. Fr. Cavallo died suddenly on March 27, 1909. The third pastor, Fr. Nicolas Capaldo resigned his duties after five month. On December 31, 1909, the Franciscan Friars began their ministry at Mount Carmel when Fr. Jerome Zazzara, T.O.R., was appointed pastor. It was Fr. Jerome that petitioned Bishop John McCort that our parish open a Chapel in Pleasant Valley to accommodate parishioners who lived too far from Mount Carmel Church to attend Mass regularly. On October 4, 1925, the first Mass was celebrated at Our Lady of the Assumption Chapel. This worship site is still utilized today. For the next ninety six years, the friars of the Immaculate Conception Province, headquartered in Hollidaysburg, have served the members of this parish.
The following is a list of the pastors of the parish and the year they began their pastorate:
1909 Fr. Jerome Zazzara, T.O.R.
1939 Fr. Angelo Piacentini, T.O.R.
1944 Fr. John Flannelly, T.O.R.
1965 Fr. Augustine Cestario, T.O.R.
1968 Fr. Aloysius Hankinson, T.O.R.
1974 Fr. Alan Polimine, T.O.R.
1982 Fr. Bonaventure Midili, T.O.R.
1990 Fr. Terrence Smith, T.O.R.
1994 Fr. Gerard Connolly, T.O.R.
1996 Fr. Giles Schinelli, T.O.R.
2000 Fr. Frank Scornaienchi, T.O.R.
We could probably say that most of the friars of the Immaculate Conception Province have served at Our Lady of Mount Carmel as pastors, parochial vicars, or as helpers for preaching, teaching, confession, or liturgy.
The work of the Franciscan Friars in this parish has been to serve its various pastoral needs while communicating to all the message of Saint Francis of Assisi. The message of this great saint is one of peace, loving respect, and common brotherhood. It is characterized by a love for the poor, care of the earth, and always points the way to Jesus.