• Joseph F. Berenato

Memorial Mass held at St. Joseph


Maureen Federico, former educator at St. Joseph High School, gave the readings during the Mass. (Courtesy Photo)

St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Parish held a memorial Mass for clergy and religious at St. Joseph R.C. Church at 7 p.m. on November 27.


The Rev. David Rivera celebrated the Mass, which included the Rev. Joseph Capella as guest preacher and honored the priests and Religious Teachers Filippini who served in the parish and died during this past year.


The Mass, which was livestreamed on the parish’s Facebook page, began at 6:45 p.m. with a musical prelude prepared by the church’s choir director, Yuko Unehara, and featured music from Requiem in D minor, Op. 48 by Gabriel Fauré.


This prelude, Rivera said during welcoming remarks, was to prepare congregants “spiritually to get into the sense of recollection and for prayer for our faithful departed, especially those who have served here, served you, served this town and given their lives to the vocation in the religious life and the priesthood.”


“It’s the least we can do for them, is to remember them, those who heard our confessions and gave us the sacraments,” Rivera said.


During the homily, Capella noted his close connection with the parish.


“I always consider this my home parish, no matter where I am stationed. I started out here with baptism, received all my sacraments here, and so it’s always an honor to come back and to see all of you as well, especially this evening,” Capella said.


Capella told parishioners a story about how, several months ago, he was invited to give a day of recollection at Villa Walsh in Morristown, N.J.


“I don’t know if any of you have been up to Villa Walsh—which is the mother house of the Filippini Sisters—but it’s not around the corner. It’s kind of way up in Jersey. Of course, it was pouring rain the whole way up. The whole way up, I was thinking to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, I hope I’ll make it in time’ and ‘did I remember this?’ and ‘why did I say yes to this?’ and ‘I probably am not going to make it back’ and ‘what if I don’t make it back in time.’ To say the least, in my confession here with you this evening, when I got there I was just a bit frazzled, but the minute I saw that chapel—the moment I pulled into that property—everything ceased, and a sense of peace came over me. It was because not only of the sisters there that day but the sisters who had meant so much to all of us throughout our lives and the lives of our parents and our loved ones. It was a wonderful experience,” Capella said.


Capella said that the incident reminded him of whose will he—and the priests and nuns—was serving.


“As we remember with this holy Mass the priests and the sisters here this evening, what a wonderful thing for this parish to have this Mass because we can remember someone’s life who has passed, and that’s sentimental, perhaps. But, when we remember in the name of Jesus Christ with one of his sacraments, it’s not just sentimental; it’s sacred ... It’s not so much what they did as much as who [God] is, and not so much of who they are but what he did through them and through all of us, how they influenced this town and our families and our souls,” Capella said.


Capella closed his homily by remarking that the honored dead still continued to have an impact.


“Never be discouraged. Never be tempted to give up hope, because these vessels—these priests and sisters whom we acknowledge tonight—were vessels of hope, and their lives gave us a glimpse into eternal life,” he said.


During the Mass’s petitions, Capella read the names of the individuals being honored. As he did so, Rivera lit a candle for each.


“For those whom we remember in prayer this evening, Father Patsy Amabile, Father Carmen Carlone, Father Joseph P. Rush, Sister Angelina Intelisano, Sister Henrietta Aprile, Sister Josephine Riccio, Sister Mary Dolores Ferrecchia and Sister Antoinette DeNardo, that the Lord may now accept them into his loving embrace, we pray to the Lord,” Capella said.


Before the closing prayer, Rivera offered remarks regarding his personal experiences with some of those being honored.


“Father Carmen I just knew a little bit when I first came here. Father Tom had just moved in, and I was helping Father Carmen move out a little bit; he still had his vestments back here.

That was my first connection with Father, and he had a very interesting choice of vestments. I remember that; I was like, ‘ooh, look at this one.’ Then, returning, I got to interact with him a little more because he would come help with Mass. Father Carmen had a great love for the sick and visiting people in the hospital. I heard a very beautiful story today precisely of that, a very powerful story of turnaround, redemption and living one’s priestly vocation,” Rivera said.


He also spoke of Amabile and Rush and of their importance to parishioners.


“Father Patsy, of course, was beloved here—and Father Joe, we have a picture of you when you were slightly chubbier with another priest son of the parish in our yearbook—and I know he inspired priests. Father Rush, who was over at St. Anthony’s, I believe, and I thank one of our parishioners for reminding me that he was assigned here—now that we’re one parish, I didn’t realize—so I’d like to thank that parishioner for reminding me so that he wasn’t forgotten,” Rivera said.


Rivera said that he did not know many of the Religious Teachers Filippini being honored, but he shared fond memories of DeNardo.


“I did know our dear Sister Antoinette, and I miss doing ‘holy homework.’ She would always say to me, ‘Father, your homework ...’ and she would bring me a bag of Rosaries to bless—at least twice a week. She was a machine at making Rosaries. Dear sister, we know that the Blessed Mother has now welcomed you with all the sisters, you who were so faithful to her in devotion to her and spreading that devotion. At the hour of your death, I’m sure the Blessed Mother was there for you,” he said.


Rivera noted that DeNardo was also a “daughter of this parish.”


“Someone just sent me a picture of her with her family; she must have been 17 or 16 in the picture, and you could still pick her out right away—boom. I went to visit Frank Bartolone, and he showed me a picture of a class trip he took, and, as I was looking at the picture, I said, ‘I think I know this lady. Who’s that? Oh! That’s Sister Antoinette,’” he said.


Rivera closed his remarks by asking parishioners to continue to honor the dead.


“Their vocations were to bring us the life of grace. The best we could do now is to live that life of grace. It’s the best way we could honor them now. May they rest in peace,” Rivera said.