The Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Feast Committee is proud to honor Rich Romeo as our 2013 Man of the Year. There are few volunteers who work as hard on behalf of the Committee, and he does so with no expectation of acknowledgment or reward.
Rich was born in Chicago, the first of three sons to Anne and Frank Romeo. Raised in the Taylor Street neighborhood, Rich attended St. Charles Borromeo Grammar School and St. Mel High School.
During his high school years, he met his future wife, Marcella Caifano, who attended St. Mary’s High School. Rich and Marcella married in 1959 and moved to Melrose Park in 1965.
Rich and Marcella joined the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish where their three children — Judy, Rick and Cheryl — attended Mt. Carmel Grammar School. All three have since married, giving Rich and Marcella four wonderful grandchildren: Ricky, Michael, Alex Marie and Francesca. Their two daughters were married at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, where Marcella and Rich renewed their wedding vows and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Mass.
Rich worked for the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Chicago for most of his career, earning his stationary engineer’s license. During his tenure, he aided in creating preventive maintenance programs for the district treatment plants, Chicago River locks and the Deep Tunnel Project, retiring after 33 years of service.
Rich joined the Holy Name Society and further served the community as PTA vice president, Webelos scout leader and coach of a Melrose Park Little League team. Rich began his career with the Feast Committee in 1970 by helping with lighting candles and selling roses in the procession. In 1982 he became secretary of the Committee, a position he still holds today.
In 1996, Rich was also elected president of the Committee, and he served as a member of the Bell Tower Committee, which raised the funds needed to create the beautiful bell tower that now graces the Shrine property. His family had a food stand in the Feast for 10 years, and they still demonstrate their commitment to honoring Our Lady by donating their time on Feast Sunday, running the beverage stand for the Committee.
“Rich Romeo is one of the few Feast Committee members who does not live in Melrose Park,” Committee President Sonny Nicotera notes. “But during Feast week, he is among the first to arrive and last to leave in the evening.”
Rich was surprised and honored when asked to be Man of the Year for 2013, declaring, “The devotion and love I have seen in the faces of the devotees to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, especially on Feast Sunday, is why I am proud to be a Feast Committee member.”
The Feast Committee is responsible for overseeing the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, which will be celebrating its 120th year of continuous running in July. Festivities culminate on July 14 with a 9 a.m. Mass in English and Italian at the Shrine, a procession to a noon field Mass and a second procession featuring traditional festa music. A street festival with live entertainment will run from July 11 to 14, and a Novena will run from July 6 to 13. Related events include the presentation of the banners at 7 p.m. on July 9 and the presentation of the roses at 6 p.m. on July 10.
The Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Feast Committee will host its dinner dance on April 20 at Elmcrest Banquets in Elmwood Park. For details, call 708-345-5172.