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Let’s talk about faith, part three

Q&A with Bernie Papa, Cedar Crest Catholic Council representative

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March 22nd, 2016
Bernie Papa, Cedar Crest Catholic Council representative

Bernie Papa, Cedar Crest Catholic Council representative

In the third and final article in a series on faith and faith communities, we focus on the Catholic community at Cedar Crest in Pompton Plains, N.J. Who are the people within this close-knit community, and what do faith and community mean to them?

Bernie Papa moved to Cedar Crest 12 years ago from Wayne, N.J., and has held various roles on its Catholic Council for the past eight years, including serving as alter coordinator and carrier of the cross. For the past year, he has served as its president. Here, Bernie shares his thoughts on faith and appreciation for his community.

Q: What is your role as president of the Catholic Council? 

A: I preside over meetings and lead the congregation in various decisions. As a 12-member council, we make suggestions to help make our community better. For example, this year we added a Sunday mass at noon in addition to our mass on Wednesday and Saturday nights. We also added an Adoration of the Rosary on Thursdays with a benediction afterward. 

Q: Why is your faith important to you?

A: My faith is important to me because I believe in God. I’ve been a Catholic all my life. I want to practice my faith. There have been problems that have occurred in my life, and I’ve always turned to God. I have that inner belief. 

In my marathon running, my faith is very strong in that He’s given me the strength in my body to do these things. God has given me certain gifts and told me to use my gifts to help others. In helping others, I help myself.

Q: Why is being part of a faith community important to you?

A: I wasn’t that religious during much of my lifetime. I went to church on Sunday, but we were working and could only get so involved. Now, I’ve got the time to get involved more. I’ve got a stronger faith and more confidence in myself as a result of being part of this community—being part of my faith community and my belief in God.

Q: What is the value of having a strong interfaith community at Cedar Crest—for you personally, for the community as a whole, or both?

A: We all work together. As part of the interfaith council, we meet monthly with Bert Moore [pastoral ministries manager]. We discuss things between our religions. Bert leads us in prayer. We sponsor events like the fall square dance, where we invite everyone regardless of faith. We run social events. We try to be as involved as possible.

Q: What services and celebrations do you take part in throughout the year?

A: As president of the Catholic council, I’m involved in all of them. I like to run events, so I ran the fall square dance. We had a Mardi Gras party in February. We have our general meeting where we invite the entire community. 

Q: Do you have anything else you’d like to add on the topic? 

A: We donate 10% of our net profits—what’s remaining from our collections after we pay for our expenses—to our parish council, Our Lady of Good Council, and to two special parishes in Paterson for the seminarian fund. We also give to other Catholic charities around the area. The people here at Cedar Crest are very, very generous.

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