WILDWOOD – Change uproots, but also replants. New roots send shoots into the soil, awaiting a future season of growth and harvest.
For the Rev. Cadmus Mazzarella, coming to Notre Dame de la Mer Parish is a personal replanting.
He anticipates coming challenges and successes, with hope for a brighter tomorrow and in the faces of Wildwood Catholic Academy students.
Mazzarella, 62, was born in Philadelphia, as America braced for cultural revolution in the 1960s.
During a July 14 interview, Mazzarella said his family, while grounded in the Roman Catholic faith, was “moderately religious.”
Becoming a priest was not on Mazzarella’s youthful agenda.
“I’m a product of Catholic and public schools,” Mazzarella said.
In 1969, Mazzarella and his family relocated to New Jersey. Mazzarella pursued a degree in phycology from Rutgers University.
According to Mazzarella, his path seemed settled until he attended a prayer community meeting, in Haddon Heights.
“I found my vocation in college,” Mazzarella reflected.
He described the prayer meeting experience as a “moving and profound coming to deeper faith.”
After attending seminary, Mazzarella was ordained as a priest, in 1985, at Saint Rose of Lima Church, in Haddon Heights.
Mazzarella dedicated his adult life to serving others, taking vows of obedience. Wherever the Diocese of Camden assigns him, he will go.
The parish bid the Rev. Joseph Wallace farewell, as he was reassigned to Christ the Redeemer Church, in Atco. Following Wallace’s departure, Mazzarella closed the chapter on his ministry, in Williamstown, and arrived in Wildwood.
“I’ve been here for two weeks,” Mazzarella said.
He is settling into his new home, on Seaview Avenue, in Wildwood Crest.
He already feels and notices a difference in Wildwood.
“The people are more joyful and relaxed,” Mazzarella explained.
He recently met with the leadership at Wildwood Catholic Academy, listening to their concerns and learning their respective roles. In response to concerns about the school’s future, Mazzarella said he assures the staff of his support.
“For now, I take a vision of learning. I want to learn more before making changes,” Mazzarella said.
“I am 100% committed to Catholic education,” he added.
According to Mazzarella, both he and the Diocese of Camden want both schools to “stay open and flourish.”
Yet, Mazzarella disclosed the need for “strong marketing” to help boost enrollment. Advertising is also a “top priority.” By marketing a safe, exceptional, and moral education, Mazzarella believes Wildwood Catholic Academy is a great option for families.
“I want to listen a lot,” Mazzarella said, referring to his ministry goals.
As society becomes “more difficult to reach,” Mazzarella plans to reach out into the wider community. He wants to host a prayer and appreciation event for local police and firefighters, in September.
He is grieved by people’s pain and suffering and the increasing animosity toward God in general. Mazzarella’s background in psychology helps him in counseling others.
“Be open. Follow the movement of the Holy Spirit in your life,” Mazzarella said, encouraging those who have left the church.
“Talk to someone. The church is in business to help people,” he added.
For those who bear wounds from the past, Mazzarella said they will find a warm welcome at Notre Dame de la Mer.
“We all need redemption and healing,” he concluded.
Faith Matters is an ongoing series exploring the connection between individuals and their faith, impacting their families, community, and beyond. Those with a story of faith to share should contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.