St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church is 120 years old. For much of that time, the Elacqua family has been a major contributor to the parish. For several generations, members of the family have volunteered, worked and strived to make worship in the parish one of the best. The latest generation is no exception. Matthew and Michael, sons of Lois and Vincent, and David and Nicholas, sons of Anne and David, are following in their parents’, grandparents’ and great grandparents’ footsteps.
You gentlemen are continuing a long line of several generations of Elacquas who have been an integral part of our parish. What does that history mean to you?
Matthew and Michael: Our great-grandparents were parishioners here. Our grandparents were parishioners for most of their lives and our grandmother even taught in the school here. Our parents have been active here our whole lives. Mount Carmel has been a part of every generation in our family, so it is like home to us, and it does mean more knowing we’ve always been here.
David: The Elacquas have been in our parish for such a long time. We have been very involved in our community, mostly in the music ministry. I feel honored to be a part of this history and it makes me proud to be an Elacqua.
Nicholas: The history of my family in our parish means a lot to me. We’ve always done so much for the parish, and I want to continue to do so also.
While you were growing up, were you encouraged to volunteer and did you feel obligated to because so many of your family members have in the past?
Matthew and Michael: We didn’t really feel obligated. It just seemed like the natural thing to do. Our father played guitar in the choir and our mother taught in Sunday school, so being involved was just what we were used to, and adults in the parish always made us feel good about being involved.
David: While I was growing up, I was encouraged to volunteer in the parish by my parents and family, and because of our history I felt somewhat obligated to volunteer. I am very thankful for the encouragement because I have come to love volunteering in our parish.
Nicholas: As I became old enough, I did feel obligated to volunteer in the parish, but I really like helping out, especially when we work the pizza fritta sales.
As you get older, why do you keep doing it?
Matthew and Michael: We really enjoy ourselves here, and we have learned the value of contributing. There is a good feeling that comes from being involved, and our parish community is an important part of our lives. In a lot of ways we probably get more out of it than we put in.
David: I keep volunteering in the parish because I have such a fun time doing it. Being surrounded by supportive members of the parish community makes it all the more fun.
Nicholas: I continue to volunteer for the parish because it’s a lot of fun to do. Since my family members and friends are doing the activities, too, it makes it even more fun.
At one time or another, you all were altar servers. Why did you do it and what did you get out of it?
Matthew and Michael: This probably started because of our older cousins. Every one of our cousins who are parishioners here were altar servers and they were pretty committed to it. As young servers, we had opportunities to serve with our older cousin Bethy because even as an older cousin, she still helped whenever she could.
David: I became an altar server because I loved watching the altar servers on the altar before I became one. Now as an altar server, it has allowed me to become more involved in our parish and I feel my faith has deepened because of it.
Nicholas: All of my older cousins were altar servers before me, and that made me really want to become an altar server, too. Altar serving has been a lot of fun for me, especially around the holidays like Christmas and Easter. Also, it allowed me to be more involved in the church.
You like to decorate the church, especially for Easter. Why do like that so much?
Matthew and Michael: That really is a lot of fun. We think our parish celebrates Holy Week really well. The sense of community that week is so unbelievable with so many people, young and old, contributing. It really has become a tradition to work behind the scenes that week for so many people. We would really miss it if we didn’t do it. It just wouldn’t feel the same.
David: Decorating the church for Easter is so much fun. All the Elacqua kids get together and we carry all of the flowers in for Holy Saturday Mass in our Cesta T-shirts, and we all just have a great time doing it.
Nicholas: Holy Week is such a special time for me, and decorating the church for Easter makes it even better. After decorating, the church looks amazing and it’s great to be a part of making it look so good. It’s also a lot of fun to decorate because it’s like a special family activity.
How important is your faith?
Matthew and Michael: In a way, it’s a part of everything we do. It’s hard to imagine our lives without it and we think that we’re better people and happier people because of it.
David: My faith is so important to me because it gives me strength in both good and difficult times. My faith has guided me throughout my entire life and it will continue to do so.
Nicholas: My faith is really important to me. I was taught to always go to church throughout my life, which has strengthened my faith a lot, and going to church every week allows me to not forget about my faith.
What’s the one thing your parents have taught you that is most meaningful to you?
Matthew and Michael: Never give up. We learned that we can make a difference if we try to live right, love the people in our lives and keep God and our faith close.
David: My parents have taught me to always trust in God because He will always get you through the good and tough times. Anytime you need help, ask God because He will always give you the answer in one way or another.
Nicholas: My parents have taught me to always go to church and to rely on God to help me.
What advice would you give to friends who might not be as faithful as you?
Matthew and Michael: That faith and being involved in a church community really can have an effect on the way you see the world around you. Faith can give you a
good reason to be hopeful when things are tough.
David: I would tell friends that aren’t as faithful as me that God will help them through whatever they need. Praying to Him also gives you a sense of relief and comfort that is difficult to get anyway else.
Nicholas: They should give God a try. I would tell them that God has a place in my life and that maybe they could find a way to have God come into their life, too.