Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church stands on a hill on Via Mount Carmel (formerly Summit Avenue) in Youngstown, Ohio. It is among the few remaining Italian ethnic parishes in the United States, and stands as a symbol of the Italo-American heritage.
Italian-American pioneers surrounded their pastor on this hill at the turn of the Twentieth Century with a sense of creative industry and positive ambition, to make their dreams a reality.
In 1908 Father Emmanuel Stabile arrived from the Diocese of Newark, New Jersey to conceive Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. Spirited by his flock, under the leadership of Luigi Adovasio and Frank Zarlenga, Father initiated the first excavation of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
While the church structure was taking form, the early parish community worshipped at Saint Columba Cathedral and Saints Cyril and Methodius Church. Later they moved to their own 79 foot long basement rising several feet from the ground and roofed for church use.
In these days, the parish was part of the Diocese of Cleveland, under the pastoral leadership of Bishops Ignatius Frederick Horstmann (1891-1908) and John Patrick Farrelly (1909-1921).
On May 11, 1911, the well-known Monsignor Vito Franco accepted the call to guide and lead the flock of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish. After two years of acclimation to his new parish, Monsignor called a meeting of the outstanding leaders of the Italian community. That group included Luigi Adovasio, Antonio Onorato, F. A. Maddas, Andrea Colucci, James Colucci, Dr. Rocco Montani, Raffaele Parilla, Gregorio Silvestri, Luigi Agnonoe, Atty James Modarelli, Gabrielo Masi, Francesco Pascarella, and many others. Antonio Onorato was unanimously elected the group’s leader.
On November 4, 1916, the construction of a parish church – a genuine symbol of Catholic faith and spirit – was complete, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church was dedicated.
Tragically, the joy of this Italian village church was short-lived. A fire of unknown origin struck on June 12, 1923. Among the scars of the destructive fire was the loss of the beautiful Holkamp Pipe Organ, which had been donated in part by the millionaire Andrew Carnegie, and in part by the faithful.
Also damaged or completely destroyed were the artistic windows, pews, ten statues, three altars, the carpeting, floor, candelabra, brass chandeliers, and other cherished church articles.
On December 16, 1923, a congregation made stronger and more united by the fire dedicated the restored church.
Time passed and the flock of Our Lady of Mount Carmel grew in faith, hope and love under the watchful eye of its pastor. After many fruitful years with his Italian people, and having joyfully celebrated his 50th anniversary of priesthood, the aged Monsignor Franco died in 1961.
Father Henry Fabrizio succeeded Monsignor Franco in 1961. Under Father Fabrizio’s able leadership and persevering vigor, a new generation of parishioners, along with the senior faithful, bought parcels of property and created into a beautiful setting for their diamond: Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
In 1963, with the very generous help of his flock, Father Fabrizio and the congregation brought to completion a new rectory and a large social hall with classrooms for religious and cultural education. A shrine garden in honor of St. Anthony was also added to Mount Carmel’s beautiful grounds in 1971. The shrine memorializes the deceased of the parish. Father Fabrizio’s work – the A new rectory, parish center and the St. Anthony Garden – were a successful effort on his part to halt the parishioner exodus to the suburbs.
Following these accomplishments, and due to an unfortunate illness, Father Fabrizio retired from active ministry.
There are many treasures of art within the church, which is a living sign of adoration and praise to Almighty God through the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Many deserve thanks for their help, including Mr. Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. and family, Mr. William Cafaro and family, and Carmen and Rose Ambrosiol.
On May 23, 1979 Our Lady of Mount Carmel was given special status and listed as an Historical Landmark by the US Department of the Interior.
In 1983 the parish community joyfully celebrated its 75th anniversary.
Father Iati passed away in May 1986.
Bishop Malone named Father Michael J. Cariglio, Jr. as the fifth pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 1, 1986. During his pastorate, the parish community, with the cooperation of the Parish Council, has continued and fostered with strength and confidence the genuine spirit of the parish family.
Monsignor Cariglio has continued the restoration of the church, extension of the St. Anthony Garden, the purchase and restoration of a building on Via Mt. Carmel, which has become the religious education center, a memorial walk to honor our living and deceased parishioners and installation of outdoor Stations of the Cross.
In 1990, Monsignor Cariglio instituted Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which continues perpetually to this day. In that year, the parish dedicated a 10 foot tall statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which overlooks the city of Youngstown, and stands as a monument to our Catholic faith and dedication to Mary.
In 2001, monsignor Cariglio led the parish in its latest building project, the construction of a tower attached to the church, which includes an elevator and handicapped-accessible restrooms.
An ongoing program of improvements continues to beautify the parish grounds and landscape.
In 2005, the duplex house that the parish uses for religious education classes was re-named and dedicated The John Paul II Center. The parish has a full time Director of Religious Education for the children, youth and adult education programs.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church continues to be a jewel in the center of Youngstown, and a tribute to the dedication of its people and energy and enthusiasm of its pastors. There are 1175 families from the area who live out their Catholic faith as members of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.