Faithful carry on Our Lady of Mount Carmel feast day, procession

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Jul. 18—SHENANDOAH — The faithful came out Sunday to Divine Mercy Roman Catholic Church to observe the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

A Mass was held at 8:30 a.m. at the church, followed by the traditional procession through the streets of the borough.

"This is our 108th anniversary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel," Edward Shafransky, a member of the church said, after which a "Hail Mary" was recited.

The procession and Mass began in the borough with the former Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church, which was at West Washington and Diamond streets. The parish would hold a weekend Italian festival featuring food, games and music that would culminate with a large fireworks display close to the actual feast day, which is July 16.

Shafransky said Sunday that the parisioners were also holding the walk in honor of Tom Talerico, who died in October and had worked to preserve the procession. Geri Talerico, Tom's wife, said she takes life "one day at a time" without him.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church was one of the parishes in the Shenandoah area that was consolidated to form Divine Mercy Church in July 2014, according to Republican Herald archives, and several of the faithful requested that the procession return as a tradition.

The statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the accompanying canopy started its journey through the streets at 9:37 a.m. Sunday from the church. The Upper Schuylkill Marching Band led the way and parishioners and participants carried cintas, or portable floats. Some of these cintas has been in participating families for generations.

At times, the procession would stop and prayers would be said. People would also pin donations to the statue for special intentions.

The Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel commemorates when Mary, the Blessed Mother, is said to have appeared to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251, after he sought her help. It is believed she held a brown Scapular, a sacramental made of two pieces of cloth, usually wool, attached by cords worn over the shoulders.

Justina Van Allen, 32, of Mahanoy Plane, came out with other family members — she estimated about 20 — for the procession.

"It's a family tradition," she said.

Tom Toborowski, 28, of Minersville, attended the event with his wife, Karlena, 28, and daughters Ava, 3, and Rae, 1, his father, Tom Toborowski, 59, of Schwenksville, uncle Drew Toborowski, 69, of Hazleton.

Tom, the senior, said attending the procession is a tradition. Sunday marked his 51st year participating.

Drew Toborowski said he has been participating in the walk for 68 years, having completed the entire walk up until two years ago. He said his Italian mother, Carmella, who was born on feast day in 1932, was very devout about the observance.

Drew Toborowski said he intended to pray for those who need help. By attending the event, people have the opportunity to meet others they haven't seen in years, he said.

He remembers one year wearing brown leather shoes that were soaked because it was raining. His mother wore a white linen dress. The next day both looked as if they weren't even worn the day before.

"My shoes looked like they just came out of the box," he said, astonished.

Contact the writer: amarchiano@republicanherald.com; 570-628-6023