Hundreds turn out for weekend Feast in Bristol
Paul Viveiros crossed his arms in front of his chest on Saturday night and peered into the tent area where people had begun to line up to get their food for the annual Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church 16th of July Feast.
“That’s what this feast is all about,” he boasted. “It’s the food which attracts everyone here.”
Mr. Viveiros, now in his 16th year as chairman of the Feast Committee, added that because of the dedicated, hard work of his committee, his parish continues to benefit from the many hours these people put in during the celebration’s four days of operation.
“It’s wonderful to see the many people who support our celebration enjoy themselves the way they do,” he said. “And, I know it’s the food we serve which is the biggest attraction.”
Serving everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to fine Italian delicacies like eggplant grinders and pasta and meatballs, the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church Feast has been a staple of the Bristol community for the past 115 years. It’s the oldest, continuous feast of its type in the Diocese of Providence.
“I love doing what I do here,” said parishioner Mary Acciardo, a member of the Feast Committee for the past 10 years. “The community comes together. People from all parishes come here to support us. It’s wonderful.”
St. Elizabeth’s Church parishioner Rosemary Oliveira loves attending the Mt. Carmel Church Feast…and, for a very good reason.
“These people who work and attend the feast here at Mt. Carmel come to our parish when we have our church celebrations,” she noted. “I think it’s only right that we attend theirs. Plus, I really enjoy the food here. I bring my whole family every year.”
With three quality bands - Vini Ames and Sh-Bop, Bobby Justin, and King’s Row - performing over weekend, those who attended had more than their fair share of music to enjoy.
“These were three exceptional bands,” said Mr. Viveiros. “We were happy to have them this year.”
As much fun and enjoyment as youngsters and oldsters had, there were moments of solemn reverence to the Blessed Mother Mary, Queen of Carmel, for whom the parish is named. Special Masses were held throughout the week. The Living Rosary was conducted this past Sunday inside the church, followed by a solemn procession, led by this year’s Chief Marshals Manny and Terry Pasqual, around the Town Common; and Benediction back at the church.
The weather was extremely hot and uncomfortable Sunday afternoon, but that didn’t hinder the parishioners who came out once again in full force to pay homage to the Blessed Mother. For Mr. Pasqual, it was bittersweet.
As he said before the start of the procession, “My brother John, will be right by my side today.” Mr. Pasqual’s oldest brother John J. Pasqual Jr., a former Mt. Carmel Feast Chief Marshal (2007), passed away last November. Mr. Pasqual has forgotten for a moment.
“I truly miss him,” he said, his emotions starting to take control. "I know my brother would be so happy for me. I know he’s looking down on me with a great big smile today.”
Mt. Carmel pastor Rev. Henry P. Zinno, Jr., said he was thrilled with the way everyone came together to help make this year’s celebration such a great success.
“In the 26 years since I have been attending the Feast as pastor (2002-13), assistant pastor (1987-97), and as pastor of Holy Ghost in Tiverton (1997-2002), this year brought the whole parish together in joyful and grand celebration,” he said. “Young and old, veteran workers and rookies, new families, generational feast workers, it was a most awesome parish and community celebration.”
He extended special thanks to Mr. Viveiros, general chairperson; Madeline Grimo and Betty Vendituoli, Feast secretaries; and of course, to Chief Marshals, Mr. and Mrs. Pasqual, and the Tom Vendituoli “Faith in Action” winner, Phillip Dufour.
“I never saw so many smiles,” he said, “as I did from all these and all our workers, and indeed from everyone who came to the Feast.”