Hundreds of Williamstown parishioners celebrate pastor's birthday with drive-by tribute

WILLIAMSTOWN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Hundreds of parishioners of Our Lady of Peace Parish participated in a drive-by birthday celebration for their pastor as coronavirus shutdowns continue.

Police sirens were blaring and lights were flashing Wednesday morning. The goal was to make as much noise as possible along Main Street in Williamstown.

Families waved, smiled and shouted "happy birthday" from their cars to Father Cadmus Mazzarella. He's served as their leader and mentor for the past 11 years.

"He's always so friendly, he's always kind," said parishioner Timothy Smith.

Associate pastor, Father Chris Bakey said, "He's a great man, we love him."

"Everybody in our Parish, we just love him to death, he's a wonderful wonderful person," said parishioner Linda Pesatski.

Despite church being off-limits for nearly six weeks due to coronavirus shutdowns, members of Our Lady of Peace Parish weren't going to let Father Mazzarella go without celebrating his 61st birthday.
"You know what? We have to celebrate. We have to keep going. We can't let anything stop us right now," said life-long member Tami Regalbuto.

Youth minister Kari Janisse said, "To see that really just shows that there's a greater good in everybody. We all want goodness and we all really strive for that and today was a great witness to that."

Many others even joined in on Facebook live to watch the drive-by as Father Mazzarella thanked everyone in person from afar and online.

Through the jokes, smiles and waves, Mazzarella still managed to thank his parishioners while turning the focus back to them on a day that was meant to honor him.

"I encourage all of our people to hang in there, they've been troopers so far and we'll get through it a little bit further that we have to go," Mazzarella said.

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