TLM in E. Harlem, NYC: an account

The inimitable Amy Welborn   o{]:¬)   gave me the heads up on this entry at The Bovina Bloviator.

The writer is a recent convert, from last Easter.

Sunday, May 18, 2008Is it Possible to be More Catholic than This?
Image from the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny.

Permit me to answer that question: No, especially when the Mass is the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Latin), celebrated, as it has been every Sunday (10 A.M.) since 1988, at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Shrine on East 115th Street in East Harlem. Your Bloviator had the pleasure of attending Low Mass (server only, no deacon) there this morning and was awestruck by it all. The church is in superb condition and while the attendance was low, it was heartening to see a contingent of about thirty teenagers, students from the church’s nearby school who, it was explained to me, are brought to the Latin Mass twice a month by their teacher (may God richly reward that man for what he is doing). Considering their age and attendant energy, they behaved like lambs; they even got the kneeling, standing and sitting right. The only thing lacking from this exquisite scene was a nun in traditional habit wielding the clicker.

Following the Mass, your Bloviator had the additional pleasure of meeting Professor William Tighe and the celebrant, Fr. John Halborg. Over coffee, the three of us did damage to a box of donuts and discussed matters churchy and theological although your Bloviator felt a bit out of his league among those two learned men.

It would be a good thing if more people attended the Tridentine Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Fr. Halborg told me on a good Sunday around fifty people show up but the Church can probably accommodate twenty times that many. The neighborhood, formerly Italian, went through a wretched stretch from the ‘seventies through the ‘nineties and fear of crime may still keep people away; indeed, I was last in that part of town a dozen years ago and it was a scary experience. That is no longer the case, nowadays things are considerably improved. I walked a good part of the way to the church and found a peaceful, stable Hispanic neighborhood with mothers and fathers and kids in strollers enjoying the fine May morning. Former Mayor Giuliani’s war on crime has reaped rich dividends for the good people of East Harlem.

So if you live in the New York area, take in the Tridentine Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel (and while you’re at it, drop some bucks into the basket, I’m sure they can use it). The experience of praying the Mass in the proper language, in such a glorious and inspiring venue, was a precious gift to this newly-minted Catholic. For those veteran fisheaters who rightfully feel discouraged at times by the banalities of modern worship, I urge you: go be refreshed by Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

(To learn more about the shrine visit this marvelous site.)

The next time I am in NYC, perhaps it would be possible to visit there.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Veritas says:

    Robert Orsi wrote a wonderful book on the annual festa associated wiht the shrine. Sad we’ve lost such public professions of faith and devotional life, although at least many street feste do survive in larger cities.

  2. AnnaTrad says:

    This wonderful Mass sounds like our Traditional Parish. We older ones are in the minority. We have many large young families with very well, for the most part, behaved children. University students and young people that find our Mass and end up bringing their families to show them what they have found.

  3. Larry says:

    A question please. I have noticed that several parishes or chapels that have the TLM are dedicated to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Is this something the people are doing or is our Lady leading the way on her own?

  4. Peter says:

    What’s a nun with a clicker?

  5. Ken says:

    Larry — I have noticed that as well. My guess is that those churches are historically Italian (Holy Rosary comes to mind as well), and usually Italian churches seem to retain their marble sanctuaries without much destruction.

    Perhaps it’s because Italians built the marble altars and rails themselves; perhaps it’s because the parishes don’t have the money to destroy the sanctuary when Italians moved out of cities in the 60s/70s, but whatever the case may be, it works.

  6. Fr. Wade says:

    Fr. Z,
    I find it hard to believe that you would be out of your league in any company.
    Thanks for the post, beautiful Church.

    Fr. Wade

  7. Rose says:

    I will be in Vancouver this weekend and would like to attend a Tridentine Mass. Any advice etc. from your bloggers would be much appreciated. Thanks.

  8. EDG says:

    Our Lady of Mt Carmel has all sorts of neat events. I used to trek over there for various things when I lived in New York (which was until 7 years ago). The neighborhood may not be great for a late-night ramble, but it’s ok the rest of the time and the church building itself is very typical of a lot of NY immigrant churches built around the same time. Hence, it’s a bit odd and full of statues with little crowns of lightbulbs, etc. (or at least it was). They used to have a multi-rite event once a year with all the Byzantine rites and the Latin Rite. I hope their TLM does well.

  9. Savonarola says:

    Beautiful place. There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic these days, despite the conflict!

    —- Savonarola.

  10. AnnaTrad says:

    Rose if you are referring to Vancouver BC Canada here is their web site for the traditional parish

  11. Rose says:

    Thanks, AnnaTrad, I am looking forward to the Sunday Sung Mass. Thanks again.

  12. Larry,

    I think it’s Our Lady. Have you seen the great things that the Carmelite Monks are doing in Wyoming?

    I am launching a new dental care product. It’s called “Floss Carmeli”

  13. Lee says:

    FWIW- Clicking on the picture puts you iniside the church.

    Many nuns used to have a clicking device that enabled them to command their classes without speaking. For example, one click in church might mean, “Genuflect altogether,” two clicks, “kneel” and so forth. The result was tremendous order together with reverent silence.

  14. This church is a place of miracles. I’m surprised it’s not better known. My Italian-American ancesters would go there from the Boston area and also the Barre, VT area, not only for ‘le feste,’ but also in cases of great need. I know of one man whom I went to school with who attributes his existance to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel of 116th St. His mother was told she would not bring him to term, that there was no medical possibility of her bearing a live child. She went to Our Lady’s shrine and begged Maria SS del Carmine to intercede. She gave birth to a healthy boy.

    Evviva Maria del Carmine!

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