Last Updated on July 19, 2024 by Editor


The season of Lent for 2024 began on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14. These images are from the 8:30 a.m. Mass.


Bishop Robert Cunningham confirmed 50 young adults during ceremonies Thursday, May 30, at Historic Old St. John’s Church, including eight from Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament Parish. The following received Sacrament of Confirmation from our parish (Confirmation names are in quotation marks; sponsors follow each individual): Juliana “Francesca” Allen — Faith Barres; Matthew “Christopher” Kernan — Jim Kernan; Sebastian “Peter” Knoop — Steven Soldato; Nobel “Luke” Moon — Pa Sor Wah; Ethan “Turibius” Rosa — Nicole Rivera; Noah “Anthony” Scalzo — Frank Scalzo; He Nay “Andrew” Soe — Paw Lar Wah; and Gabriella “Maria Trunfio” — Kay Custodero. Also pictured is Giana “Victoria” Deno from Mary, Mother of Our Savior Parish. Teenagers from St. John’s, the Spanish Apostolate at St. John’s, St. Mark’s and St. Anthony & St. Agnes also were confirmed.


On Saturday evening, March 31, our parish celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ with the beautiful and moving Easter Vigil service. The Paschal Candle was lit and processed in the dark through the church; numerous parishioners took part in the readings from the Old and New Testaments and other commentary; two adults were fully initiated in the Catholic faith being baptized, confirmed and receiving their First Holy Communion; the Music Ministry led by Peter Elacqua enhanced the evening with its beautiful and meditative music; and our wonderful altar servers added to the celebration.


Several engaged couples who will be married in our parish this year gathered Sunday, March 10, at the 11 a.m. Mass. They were presented to the parish, received a blessing from the Rev. Joe Salerno and then spent part of the day in the Salerno Room discussing life and marriage.


In honor of the 50th anniversary of his ordination, the city of Utica celebrated the Rev. Jim Cesta by naming a street in his honor on Friday, May 17. Cesta, pastor of St. Mary of Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament Parish since July 2009, was ordained on May 18, 1974. “Father Jim Cesta Way” is located along the parish campus, running from Mohawk to Jay streets. Prior to coming to Utica, Father Cesta served at parishes in Syracuse and Oswego. In July 2023, he also assumed the pastorship of St. Anthony & St. Agnes Parish in East Utica. Attending the unveiling ceremony were Utica Mayor Michael Galime and a number of parishioners.


Father Jim was honored on the weekend of May 18 and 19, 2024, on the occasion of his 50th anniversary of his ordination. At the 4:30 p.m. Saturday Mass, he was presented with a proclamation from state Sen. Joseph Griffo, was treated to beautiful music by members of the parish's Burmese community, and parishioners celebrated his day with a reception after the Mass. A special Mass took place in Father Jim's honor at 11 a.m. Sunday, where Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon presented him with a proclamation from the state Assembly. On Sunday afternoon, a large gathering took place at the Oncenter in Syracuse with faithful from parishes in Utica, Syracuse and Oswego he has served for five decades. Father Jim was ordained on May 18, 1974. The photos from the Syracuse event are courtesy of Tom Loughlin Jr.


The parish's annual Italian Festival began Friday, July 19, under beautiful blue skies. People started filling the parish grounds early, many heading for the food tent for sausage and peppers, meatball subs, pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and beef skewers and much more. Of course, pizza fritta was a big hit. The festival continued through the weekend with the annual Walk for Mary's Children procession around the parish grounds after the 11 a.m. Sunday. Many thanks to Terri Panuccio and Matthew Perritano for their photos.


Prior to our parish's Italian Festival each year, a lot of planning and preparation is done. There are meetings, decisions made, food purchased and made, to name a few. On Saturday, July, 13, some parishioners got together to cut peppers for the sausage and peppers sandwiches. On Tuesday, July 16, vegetables are cut for the mushroom stew. From Monday through Thursday, July 15-18, the parish grounds are set up with tents, tables, chairs, trailers, cooking materials, flea market and more. Here are some photos to acknowledge the hard work of many individuals.


The annual Walk for Mary's Children around the parish grounds took place after the 11 a.m. Sunday Mass on July 21, 2024. Parishioners honored Our Lady of Mount Carmel during the procession as the Blessed Sacrament was on display during the march and benediction took place at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.


On Sunday, April 14, 2024, 14 children received their First Holy Communion with their families and friends in attendance. The children, under the guidance of Terri Panuccio, K-6 Faith Formation director, received the Sacrament of Reconciliation in February and have been preparing for this day for months. The children receiving First Communion are: Liliana Rose Ellis Serafina Marie Gentile Anthony Edward George Audrina Marie Giruzzi Gabriella Michelle Hill Joidon Hpo Layla Madeline Jones Dominick Zau Hkawng Lahtem Sophia Grace Scaramuzzino Charles Tobi Suaung Ethan Hollaran Tartaglia Marco Commisso Vella Tkaw Paw Wah Amalia Faith Whiteley Photos by Colleen Winschell Photography


Congratulations to the following children from St. Mary of Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament Parish and St. Anthony & St. Agnes Church who received the Sacrament of First Reconciliation on Feb. 3. Photos courtesy of Terri Panuccio. Liliana Rose Ellis Serafina Marie Gentile Anthony Edward George Audrina Marie Giruzzi Gabriella Michelle Hill Joidon Hpo Layla Madeline Jones Dominick Zau Hkawng Lahtem Ethan Hollaran Tartaglia Sophia Grace Scaramuzzino Charles Tobi Suaung Marco Commisso Vella Tkaw Paw Wah Amalia Faith Whiteley Matteo Peter Bevivino Salvatore Christopher Cavalier EmmaRose Joy Church Mila Rose Eddy Antonio Dominick LoMedico Anthony John Longo Leigh Nicole McDaniels Myla Nicole Thrasher


Though the usual Good Friday service took place at our neighboring St. Anthony & St. Agnes Parish, our parish hosted Stations of the Cross and Veneration of the Cross. Here are photos submitted by Amy Perritano Eddy. The overall view of the sanctuary is from Joanne Gerace.


Parishioners from Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament and St. Anthony & St. Agnes parishes joined in worship on Holy Thursday at Mount Carmel. A packed church participated in the Mass, watched as Father Jim washed the feet of 12 people, re-enacting what Jesus did to his disciples the night before he was crucified. The service concluded with a procession of the Holy Eucharist in the dark around the church, which was followed by a musical meditation.


The annual Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament Parish Lenten Luncheon took place on Wednesday, Feb. 28, in the Salerno Room. About 60 people attended the fundraiser that featured minestrone soup, and tuna fish and grilled cheese sandwiches. All proceeds benefitted the Abraham House, which cares for terminally ill patients and their families.


On Mother's Day weekend, May 11-12, 2024, Mary, the Mother of God, was honored in our parish at the annual May Crowning. At all three Masses, children who recently received their First Holy Communion participated in the event that dates back decades in our church. Thanks to Terri Panuccio for putting it all together.


Our parish celebrated Jesus Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem during Palm Sunday services Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, March 23 and 24. To the strains of "Jerusalem My Destiny," parishioners, including our Faith Formation students, processed through the church in honor of Christ. The Passion was proclaimed through the voices of five people and the holy sacrifice of the Mass was offered.


The Santa Rosalia Society sponsored a St. Joseph Table after the 11 a.m. Mass on Sunday, March 17. Pictured are members of the society who hosted the event. Those who participated were treated to good food and other goodies. St. Joseph’s feast day is March 19. Photos courtesy of A.J. Valentini.