For years, the Italian Americans residing in town and their contributions to Montclair have
been considered a “bedrock of the community.” With humble admiration, Raffaele Marzullo, former owner of Marzullo’s Italian restaurant, proudly declared for all First Montclair House residents to hear:
“Without my beautiful sister Marialena, who is the focus, blood unit and plasma which steers the Community Outreach Program for Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, we would not be able to accomplish our dedication and continued quest to feeding the needy — for she is the chief cook and bottle washer of our operation, 24/7, and the motor of our drive.”
Mana from God was known to be a mysterious substance sent down by God, and what happened on Tuesday, April 6, at First Montclair House was almost biblical in proportion. The Community Outreach Program for Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church arrived with a truckload of food. “March Madness” may be over, but what happened heightened excitement for the residents who had not been able to actually go food shopping.
Everyone in masks was immediately recognized, as Marialena and Raffaele Marzullo, former Montclair Police Chief Thomas J. Russo and Jose German-Gomez arrived and began to put groceries on every available table in the community room.
As one resident entered the community room, she put up her hands and exclaimed, “What, have we robbed the ShopRite?” Another said, “Why, it’s raining food!” “Who could have done this for us?” another fascinated senior asked.
Marzullo’s doors are shut, as are the doors of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on Pine Street. But First Montclair House has not only opened her doors to them but our hearts as well.
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For more than 32 years Marzullo’s Restaurant was a welcoming place, blessed by a papal blessing from His Holiness Pope John Paul II. Marzullo, along with fellow parishioners from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, had requested the township become a “sister city” with Aquilonia last autumn. Marzullo, who was born in Aquilonia and whose family owned the restaurant, said Montclair has welcomed many residents from his birthplace, including his own relatives.
On Behalf of First Montclair House