Our Lady of Mount Carmel History
Like our nation, our parish is a melting pot. The Irish came first, then the Italians. Later, the Polish and Germans and recently Cuban, Filipino and Vietnamese immigrants have joined our parish family.
In 1852 Father Matthew Hart from St. Mary's in New Haven celebrated the first Catholic Mass in Hamden for five families. In 1869 a formal parish was established and named St. Mary's. It consisted of all of Hamden and most of North Haven. Mass was celebrated in private homes until 1891 when a small stone church was built. It was built where our shrine to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is situated and renamed Our Lady of Mount Carmel to fit the name given the area by the early Congregationalists who thought that Sleeping Giant resembled Mount Carmel of scripture.
Over the next three decades Our Lady of Mount Carmel became the -Mother Church" as new parishes were formed and named St. John the Baptist, St. Ann, St. Barnabas and St. Rita.
The decade after World War II showed tremendous growth. Recognizing the importance of teaching our children their Catholic faith, the parish purchased land in the 1950's for a parochial school. However, no religious women were available to staff the school and it never materialized. Instead, arrangements were made for the use of local public school classrooms to hold religious instruction programs after school.
By 1957 it was clear that the original church could no longer meet the needs of a growing population and plans were designed and a fund drive organized to build a new, larger, more modern church. On December 5, 1959 Archbishop Henry J. O'Brien dedicated the current Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. Built of Virginia rose colored brick with limestone and granite trim, the colonial-style edifice is of cruciform design with a basement that can be used for dances and church related functions.
Even with the advent of Ascension Church in 1964 and St. Joan of Arc in 1971 the parish continues to grow. Today, nine years into our second century, we embrace over 2,100 households and are still growing. This year, generous volunteers are instructing over 900 youngsters in our faith. During this jubilee Year, 96 children and adults were confirmed and we anticipate over one hundred baptisms.
In addition to the Holy Name Society and Marian Guild strong parish ministries include our parish Council, Finance Council, Social Action Committee, Eucharistic Ministers, CCD teachers, Lectors and our beautiful Choir. With an abundance of social activities, the Catholic spirit is alive and thriving in Mount Carmel.