America: It brings out the worst and best in people

Reflections on the immigrant perspective by an Italian-American romantic

Michael "Mick" Bisignani

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As an “off-the-boat” immigrant as well as an individual that has lived both in the US and abroad, I tend to see things through a somewhat broader lens. Professionally I live in the world of information technology but my heart often pulses to passions outside of STEM. I feel comfortable listening, attentively, to days of college lectures on literature, poetry, classical languages, and the intersection of politics and history.

On this Saturday evening, reflecting on my hectic weekend morning, which included my customary trip to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, I thought a bit more about my Italian-American heritage. The catalyst was my visit to the Church of Mount Carmel [1] on 187th street in the Belmont section of the Bronx. Without mentioning the famous movie, ask actor Chazz Palminteri [2] and he will certainly tell you a thing or two about the area, and the beautiful immigrant church completed in 1912.

Photo By Jim Henderson — Source Wikipedia Commons

It is a beautiful sanctuary, especially later in the day, when the lighting is low. delicate, and that special ambiance coats and fills this spiritual space. This was and remains a church of immigrants. It was built and frequented by Italian immigrants, later Italian-American immigrants and progeny, and today by many faithful, whose backgrounds span multiple continents, ethnicities. During mass, I have seen people from all over, of all colors. I see all kinds of A kinds of hair, even hair colored bright fuschia. All are welcome.

For me, this church has a very special meaning. It was this fact that I reflected upon today. Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Bronx was the church where my great aunt got married in the early 1930s. This is the church that my father must have attended. My aunt, my cousins, during their brief stay must have also experienced it. It is indeed a special place for me. All it takes is some silence, a pew, and an ounce of spiritual concentration. I must have visited it too as an infant, and very young boy. No recollection remains.

Today, I make it a point, almost a solemn duty to at least spend a few minutes there. I don’t mind attending mass there on Sunday afternoons, even having attending mass at my…

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Michael "Mick" Bisignani

Professional Technologist, Aspiring Food Celebrity. Catholic spreading messages of Empathy and Equality.