Our Feast Day History - July 16
The feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was instituted by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 under the title "Commemoratio B. Marif Virg. duplex" to celebrate the victory of their order over its enemies on obtaining the approbation of its name and constitution from Honorius III on January 30, 1226.
The feast was assigned to July 16, because on that date in 1251, according to Carmelite traditions, the Blessed Virgin gave the scapular to St. Simon Stock; it was first approved by Sixtus V in 1587. After Cardinal Bellarmine had examined the Carmelite traditions in 1609, it was declared the patronal feast of the order, and is now celebrated in the Carmelite calendar as a major double of the first class with a vigil and a privileged octave (like the octave of Epiphany, admitting only a double of the first class) under the title "Commemoratio solemnis B.V.M. de Monte Carmelo".
By a privilege given by Clement X in 1672, some Carmelite monasteries keep the feast on the Sunday after July 16, or on some other Sunday in July. In the seventeenth century several dioceses in the south of Italy adopted the feast, although its celebration, outside of Carmelite churches, was prohibited in 1628 by a decree contra abusus. On November 21, 1674, however, it was first granted by Clement X to Spain and its colonies, in 1675 to Austria, in 1679 to Portugal and its colonies, and in 1725 to the Papal States of the Church, on September 24, 1726, it was extended to the entire Latin Church by Benedict XIII.
The lessons contain the legend of the scapular; the promise of the Sabbatine privilege was inserted into the lessons by Paul V about 1614. The Greeks of southern Italy and the Catholic Chaldeans have adopted this feast of the "Vestment of the Blessed Virgin Mary". The object of the feast is the special predilection of Mary for those who profess themselves her servants by wearing her scapular.
Our Parish History
1950s: In the Beginning
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parish was the vision of the first Bishop of our Diocese, Bishop John George Bennett. With the creation of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana in 1944, he began purchasing property in key areas of the new Diocese, one of which was a piece of land located at 116th Street and U.S. 31.
In June of 1955, he created our parish for the people of Washington and Clay Townships in Hamilton County. The new parish was comprised of nearly all of these townships, which were then part of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Noblesville. He also appointed Fr. M. Joseph McDonnell as the first pastor of the new parish.
Sixty families comprised the early parish. In those days, Sunday Mass was offered at the Carmel Theater, current site of Carmel Park on Rangeline and Main Streets. Fr. McDonnell established a chapel and residence at the Rue Hinshaw home, 280 W. Main Street, Carmel, where he also celebrated Daily Mass.
By September 1955, Fr. McDonnell was ready to proceed with plans for the building of a parish school. About the same time, the Leo McNamara Corporation, which was owned by a parishioner, donated an 11+ acre section of their “Two Gaits” horse farm and $25,000 to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish. With the acceptance of this gift, Bishop Bennett approved the relocation of the parish from the Highway 31 site to the present location at 146th Street and Oakridge Road in the Village of Mt. Carmel.
By 1956, the parish had grown to 163 families. Bids for the construction of three separate buildings opened on February 9 of that year: a rectory, a convent, and a structure with eight classrooms and attached auditorium. The contract was awarded to F.A. Wilhelm Company and the architect for the structure was John Auferoth. The cost of construction was $365,500, $300,000 of which was debt. Many of the church appointments and furnishings were donated as memorials and were not reflected in this construction cost.
The families who formed our early parish made great sacrifices to provide the needed labor and funds. They were so committed to building this parish that some even took a second mortgage on their homes.
We broke ground for the school and auditorium on March 4, 1956, and laid the cornerstone on July 1. The rectory and convent were completed later. On September 16, Bishop John J. Carberry, the Coadjutor Bishop of our Diocese, dedicated the new building following a solemn High Mass, which was celebrated by Fr. McDonnell. Masses were celebrated in the auditorium until 1975 when the Church was built.
The school opened September 4. From the beginning, the school was tuition-free for parishioners. In October, 16 children attended our First Holy Communion class. Six eighth grade students graduated that first year.
The faculty included four teaching Sisters of St. Joseph from Tipton, IN. In 1967 they left and we were joined by the Sisters of Notre Dame from Toledo, OH, who taught here until 2005, when the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia from Nashville, TN, came to help staff our school.
1960s: Years of Quiet Growth
By 1965, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish had grown and the demands on the school had increased so much that six new classrooms and a large activities room were added to the parish plant. As the spirit of community and lay participation grew in the parish, the school felt it needed the support of a School Board. In the fall of 1969, the first School Board was appointed by Fr. Fred Gschwind, who had been appointed pastor in 1967.
1970s: The Church is Built and the Campus Expands
Carmel’s rapid economic growth began in the 1970s and with it came the need to build a larger church. Fr. Michael Kettron, who was appointed pastor in 1972, oversaw the construction of the church. They tore down the rectory to make room and began building in 1974. Dart Corporation, owned by parishioner David Freiburger, was the construction manager, and David Snapp of Interstate Church Builders Inc. was the architect. Bishop Raymond J. Gallagher celebrated the Mass to dedicate the new church on the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16, 1975.
The new church and allocation of lots for parking consumed much of the existing athletic facilities, so we purchased twelve acres on the southeast side of Oakridge Road and developed them into the excellent athletic fields and concession stand we now have. We also constructed the eight-bay pole barn to house school buses and provide storage.
When the opportunity to own the O’Neil house with three adjacent lots to the immediate south of the parish property arose in 1975, we purchased them. The 3-bedroom ranch became a rectory and the adjacent property became a playground.
Our parish grew from 1,285 families in 1977 to more than 1,500 families in 1980. Demographic surveys called for two additional parishes: St. Louis de Montfort in Fishers and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Carmel.
A pivotal moment in our parish occurred in the summer of 1976, when Bishop Fulton Sheen visited Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and formally enrolled parishioners in the Nocturnal Adoration Society. It was from this beginning that the desire for a separate chapel in which 24 hour Adoration could take place grew.
Recognizing a need for adult spiritual development, Fr. Kettron brought Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) here in March 1978. We were the first site in Indiana for the program. To date, more than 64 teams of men and of women have participated in this on-going spiritual renewal program that has as its focus building unity and Christian community within our parish.
1980s: New Parishes Form, Growth Slows, Building Continues
The Catholic population of Hamilton County continued to grow so rapidly that, in 1980, St. Louis de Montfort Parish was formed from Our Lady of Grace; and in 1987, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish was formed from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
The years following the addition of the two parishes were difficult ones. It was a period of recession and there was little growth in our parish. Still, beautiful things continued to happen. We held our first Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program and offered a new Adult Education program, the Mustard Seed series.
Our kindergarten opened in 1984 and with its success came the need for yet another expansion. We built a two-room addition with bathroom facilities on the south end of the gymnasium. At that time, one room was the art/music room, and the other the kindergarten room.
In 1987 Msgr. John C. Duncan became pastor. We added the library and 12 classrooms, which became the primary grade pods, to the school in 1987. The computer labs were added in 1989. Under Msgr. Duncan’s guidance, our parish became known for faith-filled liturgical celebrations, and the school for its academic excellence and athletic programs.
1990s: Another New Parish and Blossoming Programs
Expansion continued and in 1991 we added the gymnasium at the west end of the school. The auditorium had been used as a gym until that time. It was converted into the current Parish Hall and we added a kitchen in 1991 as well.
To ease the overcrowding of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, our parishioners contributed $8 million in 1995 to seed St. Maria Goretti Church and School. They broke ground in Westfield on July 6, 1995, and 188 students in kindergarten through fifth grade began attending classes there August 20, 1996.
During this same period, Our Lady of Mount Carmel experienced tremendous growth in our parish education ministries. Spiritual growth also blossomed through participation in Eucharistic Adoration, the Frassati Society, Bible Study for various ages, junior high and high school programs for youth, and many other programs offered throughout the year.
Also during this time, we established an Hispanic Apostolate. In 1997, we began celebrating a monthly Mass in Spanish for about 15 families. Bishop William Higi was present for the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe that year. Today, we serve more than 350 Hispanic families.
2000s: Parish Plant Expands to Keep Up with New Growth
We continued to grow at a record pace. In 2001 we added seating for 300 to the church as well as the Adoration Chapel, narthex, upstairs restrooms, bride’s room, confessionals, Hall of American Saints, sacristy, handicap accessibility, St. Thomas Aquinas Room, St. Cecelia Music Room, St. Julie Room, additional parish offices, and a new convent. On December 9, 2002, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Bishop William Higi officiated at the rededication of the church and the altar.
On July 9, 2002, during our Novena celebration for the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, we dedicated the Matthew 25 Center. Located in what had been the convent, this facility currently houses our H.E.L.P. Committee Food Pantry & Ministries for the poor, and the Trinity Free Clinic, which provides free medical, eye, dental, and pharmaceutical care to the uninsured poor of Hamilton County.
In 2003 we became a sister parish to Saint-Antoine de Padoue Parish in Petite Riviere, Haiti. Our parishioners participate annually in medical and humanitarian aid missions there. As a result of our work there, Saint-Antoine de Padoue now has round-the-clock electricity for the church and rectory.
In 2006 we built a school for our Haitian sister parish and are currently working to provide a hydrology system for the town. Through a regular collection on the second weekend of every month, we provide salaries for the teachers and other humanitarian aid. Several of our parishioners have acted as host families for Haitian children who need specialized medical care here in the states, as well. Fr. Valery Rebecca, their pastor, has also been here to say Mass and interact with our parish.
Our Hispanic ministry, which began with 15 families in 1997, now includes more than 350 families who worship here at the weekly 7 p.m. Spanish Mass, and who take part in a number of programs that are offered in Spanish, including PRE, RCIA, sacramental preparation, programs for teens, and English language classes.On July 16, 2004, Fr. Richard J. Doerr became our pastor after several years as associate pastor.
The growth of our parish has again created a need for more space. In 2006 we renovated the bus barn adjacent to our athletic complex into a Youth Center. In 2007 we built a new rectory and retired the debt from our 2001 expansion.
2010s: Master Plan Developed for the Parish
Today we serve over 3,000 families. On average, each year more than 350 families join our parish and more than 100 babies are baptized. Our RCIA and RCIC programs bring more than 40 new Catholics into the Church each year as well. In addition, we offer more than 200 different ministries and a wide variety of social, spiritual, and educational programs.
On July 16, 2011 a brand new Matthew 25 Center was dedicated by Bishop Timothy Doherty. The $1.8 million 13,000 square-foot new building is more than double the size of old facility.