*courtesy of www.eastboston.com

July 4, 2004

Archbishop Sean O’Malley

2101 Commonwealth Avenue

Brighton, MA 02135

Most Honorable Archbishop O’Malley:

We write this letter with great sadness, with heavy hearts. As you know, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in East Boston will close this year. We believe that the Archdiocese of Boston is making a serious mistake in deciding to close Mt. Carmel. We are struggling to understand the reasons for this decision. And, despite the news, we have pledged to find ways to keep this landmark church open.

Mt. Carmel is a vital parish that has long served Italians in East Boston — people who still practice their faith in their native tongue. Despite the struggles and hardships they faced, many Italians turned to the church to find their place in America. They found strength in Mt. Carmel. With God’s help, they became successful and made the financial commitments necessary to sustain the church.

Through the years, many have walked to church each Sunday to hear Mass in Italian; some still drive from far away. Many are elderly and devoted. With the help of Mt. Carmel, we raised a wonderful family. We started attending Mass at Mt. Carmel since we arrived from Italy almost fifty years ago. Our six children were baptized in this church, three were married here and we once believed that we would be buried from this church when the good Lord calls us home. We are not alone. The same story can be heard over and over again from the families who fill up the pews each Sunday. These families do not deserve to be treated lightly or indifferently.

Mt. Carmel’s parishioners have sacrificed for many years to maintain this beautiful building. They have raised funds, organized processions and festivities and flocked to the Holy Name Society. They have breathed life into a neighborhood while bringing out the best in people. Last year, we raised funds for a statue from Italy of St. Padrio Pio. The inside of this church with its confession room, its stained glass, its wall-plaques and refurbished kitchen are testaments to the tremendous devotion we have expressed. Whatever the need, we answered the call. This should come as no surprise. As immigrants who can freely practice their faith, we felt an obligation to Mt. Carmel and the Franciscans.

But now the decision to close Mt. Carmel is tearing away the bonds between the Archdiocese and the faithful. Many of us are angry and upset. Why is the Archdiocese doing this? Has every alternative been explored? Can we not call upon the Franciscans to provide the clergy? Why haven’t other churches in East Boston with dwindling memberships been recommended for closure? Can nothing be done to share this church with newer immigrants? Is Mt. Carmel slated to close because its real estate is more valuable to the Archdiocese? These are worthy questions that we would like answered in an honest way.

No doubt the Archdiocese has seen much turmoil over the last two or three years. Whether from blindness or arrogance, some clergy decided to abuse their positions in the church. But why are we being forced to pay the price? Where will we go to hear the gospel in Italian? Our faith in the ways of the Lord will never be shaken, but unfortunately we find that what the Archdiocese is doing to Mt. Carmel is trying our souls.

Dear Archbishop O’Malley, we implore you to reconsider your decision for the sake of the archdiocese itself. Let us find the ways to keep Mt. Carmel open, vibrant and everlasting.

Sincerely, in the name of the Lord,

Domenico Conte

Maria Conte