If you’ve been in the area of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church anytime recently, you’ve no doubt noticed something spectacular.
It’s what the Rev. Alex Barbieto, pastor of the church, says may be the biggest statue to ever be erected in Nutley and in the surrounding towns — and it is of Jesus the Christ.
Father Alex says the marble work of art stands at about 8 feet tall and was locally erected at the front corner of the church facing Harrison Street. It was created by Fines Gallery, in Bonita Springs, Florida, but was mostly made outside the country.
“It is historic because you’ll never see a massive statue this size made of marble,” Father Alex said. “The statue weighed about 2,324 pounds.”
Father Alex says the project was conceived more than a year ago for a parish rich in diversity.
“As everyone knows, the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Nutley, or this ‘Little Church on a Hill,’ as some of the old parishioners often referred to, is always a very welcoming church,” Father Alex. said. “This used to be named a Polish church because it was primarily built and supported by Polish migrants since it was built in 1950.
“Now, of course, the demographics have changed. Our parishioners now are a composite of not just Polish people but of varied ethnic groups including Filipino, Vietnamese, Indian, Italian, Irish and Korean.”
The massive statue also happens to be arriving at a time where things in the parish are heading in the right direction. Mass attendance during COVID was down all over. But not at OLMC and now, it’s even further on the upswing to Father Alex’s delight.
“Since I became pastor of this church more than five years ago, I have seen the gradual influx of Mass attendance,” he said. “In the beginning of my pastorate in this parish, we were averaging about 10 to 15 people in our daily Mass attendance. Now we average about 40 to 60 people in our daily Masses.
“Even with the fear and onslaught of the pandemic three years ago, we were one of the few churches in the area which did not close or cut masses. Every week, I see new faces of people attending our church Masses. I think this is a good sign, considering that some people nowadays are indifferent and even hateful with the church.”
With all this mind, when Father Alex presented the idea of the statue to his flock, it was, to them, a no-brainer.
“When this project of putting up a big, welcoming statue was presented to the parishioners a year ago, I easily got their approval and financial support was overwhelming,” he said. “I think this stands as a testament of what the parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is. True indeed, our parish welcomes everyone to our church without any discrimination — whether old and young, the migrants or strangers, even those whom we often consider as ‘people who have no voice,’ including those who come from different cultures and orientations — they are all welcome to attend our parish services.
“And, of course, it reiterates in a very visible way our parish mission statement which says: ‘Our mission as a holy parish is to communicate and to celebrate the life and spirit of Jesus by our words and actions in order to build a dynamic, loving, caring and outreaching community of faith.’ The statue stands as a historic testament of this mission statement.
A special dedication will take place Saturday, Aug. 26, when the most Rev. John Flesey, retired auxiliary bishop of Newark, will bless the statue, at a concelebrated Mass. The public is welcome to attend. OLMC is located in Nutley at 120 Prospect St.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.