A ‘Romantic’ Celebration to Remember at N.J. Church

HNP Communications Around the Province

WOOD-RIDGE, N.J. — The electrical power may have gone out, but the light of the Spirit was at work on a recent stormy evening when Assumption Church here celebrated its volunteers and awarded Francis Medals at its Appreciation Night.

At the 5:30 p.m. Mass before the Oct. 25 dinner, Brian Cullinane, OFM, the pastor, found himself in the dark when the lights went out right after he said, “Go in peace.”

“Everything was in the dark,” said Brian, except for a few emergency lights at the exits of the church. “All the people filtered out of the church and into the terrible rainstorm that caused the power outage.”

But all was not lost, according to Brian, who added that parishioners had fun in the candlelight atmosphere at the appreciation dinner in the school gym that followed the Mass.

“In my greeting and opening prayer, I welcomed one and all to our romantic appreciation dinner,” Brian laughed.

In true Franciscan spirit, Thomas Kelly, OFM, Paul Sinnema, OFM, and parishioners rallied, making the best of a bad situation. They were here to honor volunteers, and a rainstorm and blackout were not going to dampen their spirits.

They celebrated the dedicated spirit of volunteers, including ushers, Eucharistic ministers, lectors, religious eductation teachers, and others who give of themselves.

Francis Medals were awarded to Patricia Caulfield, retiring CCD director, and Irene Milatz, who taught English and Religion at Assumption School for many years.. Caulfield, director for 18 years, was honored for organizing and running wonderful programs at the parish. She is often called on by the Archdiocese of Newark, said Brian, to be a presenter at its programs.

Milatz, who had to attend a meeting out-of-state, was remembered for her “total dedication to Assumption parish and to the education of our children the entire year,” according to Brian. “She is a legend in our community.”

With the DJ unplugged, parishioners found it very easy to talk to others, not having to shout over the music, Brian said.

By 9 p.m., the power came back on, right in time for dessert.

“For sure, it was an evening that no one will forget,” laughed Brian. “But the question is now, will next year’s  appreciation celebration be a romantic one or the regular — with loud music and all.”

Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today.