May 25, 2017

Celebrating the 2017 Feast of the Madonna del Sacro Monte in Clifton, New Jersey

(L) The Madonna del Sacro Monte. (R) Chapel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary  Photos by New York Scugnizzo
In what had to be the nicest day of the year so far, over two hundred pilgrims gathered at Holy Face Monastery in Clifton, New Jersey Sunday morning for the Feast of the Madonna del Sacro Monte. Unable to attend this glorious celebration of our Duesiciliano faith and culture the past two years, I was thrilled to return and happy to say that the feast has not only grown in numbers but also in quality.
Celebrant and homilist the Very Rev. Msgr. Cav. Joseph Ambrosio (Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Newark, New Jersey and Chaplain of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George) sung Mass outside the Chapel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary located in the serene grove behind the church. 
Afterward, worshippers processed with great fanfare around the monastery grounds with the statue of the Blessed Mother three times before settling in the picnic area, where revelers enjoyed a festive luncheon with traditional southern Italian fare and music. 
In addition to my fellow Knights of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George, it was great to see members of the San Rocco Society of Potenza, San Cono Society, the Our Lady of the Snow Society, Club Sassanese D’America and the Knights of Columbus, among others, come out and show their support. 
On top of the fellowship, good food and dancing, partygoers also enjoyed a very competitive game of “pass the provolone,” a humorous take on “hot potato,” where the winner gets the cheese. T-shirts, southern Italian food products and religious articles were available for purchase.
The fête was organized by the friendly and welcoming Sandu Manghesi del Cliento Club and the Società Organizzata da Gioiese in Nord America (SOGNA), who uncompromisingly maintain their special devotion to the Madonna del Sacro Monte. 
As always, it was an honor and a privilege to celebrate our faith and culture together; God willing, we shall do it again next year. Evviva Maria!
Members of the Sandu Manghesi del Cliento Club 
Cavalieri Vincent Gangone and John Napoli flank HE Cav. John M. Viola
Celebrants make their way to the chapel for the Missa Cantata
(L-R) Cav. Gangone and Cav. Tom Portelli flying the flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
(L) Devotees with a beautiful candle house. (R) Members of the Knights of Columbus color core in full regalia show their support 
The Missa Cantata was celebrated by the Very Rev. Msgr. Cav. Joseph Ambrosio 
Worshippers line up for Holy Communion 
After Mass, these cute-as-a-button flower girls line the procession path with rose petals 
Devotees pin donations on to the statue of the Blessed Mother
Our pal Brian McGuire served as crucifer during the procession
(L) Our pal Robert and adorable Catherine enjoying the festivities. (R) Msgr. Ambrosio accompanied by his Constantian brethren 
Members of the congrega carry the statue of the Madonna del Sacro Monte
The Tony Neglia Band 
(L) We ran into our dear friends Elena and Vinnie. (R) Neapolitan American singing sensation Marcantonio Pezzano had partygoers dancing
Revelers danced the tarantella 
It was the perfect day for a picnic
Marinated sliced pork and peppers sandwich 
Sausage and peppers hero
Some delicious zeppoli for dessert