The Roman Catholic Church of Saint Mel emanates from thoughts of the blessed fifth-century Saint Mel. Founded in February of 1941, our parish, from its inception, has been closely and intimately linked with the particular Flushing / Whitestone communities whose spiritual needs it serves.
Many of the details of the life of Saint Mel of Ardagh are shrouded in mystery, but one aspect of his life is crystal clear – he comes from a deeply impressive spiritual lineage. While it is unknown when and where Mel was born in the fifth century, it is known that his father’s name was Conis and his mother was Darerca. Darerca was the sister of Saint Patrick and the mother of 19 children, all of whom entered religious life and were later canonized as saints. Mel, like all 16 of his brothers, eventually was consecrated a bishop, but it is unclear whether he was assigned the diocese of Ardagh as his see, or lived his life primarily as an itinerant missionary and evangelist, earning his keep through manual labor and donating any excess food he earned to the poor.
According to ancient tradition, the most significant event in Mel’s life is that he was the bishop who professed Saint Brigid as a nun. During the rite, a mysterious manifestation of the Holy Spirit caused him to inadvertently read over her the episcopal consecration, Mel was convinced that it happened according to the will of God and insisted that the consecration should stand. Mel proclaimed that Brigid alone of the abbesses of Kildare would be a bishop, and her successors, while not being bishops themselves, would continue to have a bishop’s jurisdictional authority. This authority was respected for many centuries.
For some time, Mel lived with his aunt Lupait, and slanderous tongues spread serious accusations against them. Saint Patrick himself came to investigate their conduct, but Mel and Lupait were cleared of the charges by supernatural means. When Patrick arrived, Mel was standing in a field plowing, but he reached into the dirt and picked a live fish out of the ground as easily as if he had lowered a net into the water. Lupait established her innocence by carrying glowing coals without burning herself or her clothing. Patrick was satisfied by this supernatural evidence, but he told his nephew in future to do his fishing in the water and his plowing on the land, and he also enjoined Mel and Lupait to avoid further scandal by living and praying far apart from one another.
His feast day is February 6th.