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Closter Continues Tradition of Recovery Mass

The late Rev. James McKenna
The late Rev. James McKenna Photo Credit: Melissa Heule
Lisa Gladwell
Lisa Gladwell Photo Credit: Melissa Heule

CLOSTER, NJ -- Hundreds are expected to attend a Saturday Mass on Sept. 19 designed to help heal those battling addiction.

St. Mary's Church in Closter carries out the traditions of the Rev. James McKenna with a monthly recovery Mass. The late priest, who overcame substance abuse issues, asked others to support those who are at any point in the recovery process.

"It's very spiritual. People cry during the 'Our Father'," said Lisa Gladwell, who has been sober the past 14 years.

Gladwell volunteers as an altar server for Masses that have included Archbishop Bernard Hebda, who supports clergy members who speak about their own experiences with the disease.

Straight and Narrow, Spring House, Ladder House and other area groups participate in witness sessions during the 12-step programs that follow the Mass.

"Some of the folks are very much on edge early on," said the Rev. Don Hummel, the chaplain of Paramus Catholic High School.Hummel said he tries to mix in humor while speaking from his own experiences. "That's where the credibility comes from," he said. "You tell your own story."

"The church is a place of healing, and that's what Jesus did for others," said the Rev. Paul Cannariato, the church's pastor who followed McKenna. "So we're happy to support that."

"People who are in recovery get a new enthusiasm for recovery because of people just getting into it," said the Rev. Charles Waller, the spiritual director of Straight and Narrow. "When people reach out, there is a wonderful dynamic. "People are able to share the fact that there is hope."

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