By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T
It’s an interstate love affair. Two of the most committed parishioners at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul live in New Jersey. Nick and Louise Pascale travel in from Cinnaminson, and it’s not just for Sunday Mass.
“It’s not that far,” Louise said. “We come over the Betsy Ross Bridge and then I-95; it’s only 15 minutes on a Sunday if there is no traffic.”
“Just about enough time for us to say the rosary,” Nick said.
Of course, that’s on a Sunday. One suspects with weekday traffic there is probably time for two rosaries.
Nick and Louise are really transplanted Pennsylvanians anyway; she from St. Monica Parish in South Philadelphia, and he from St. Ann Parish in Bristol.
They met when she, then Louise Antonucci, was studying for her master’s degree at Temple University. Nick, who was in the master’s program at St. Joseph’s University, enrolled in a couple of additional courses at Temple.
They married in 1966 and a few years later settled in Cinnaminson. Both pursued public school teaching careers in that area.
Louise taught for 44 years on the high school, middle school and elementary school levels. Nick, a former teacher-supervisor, still teaches on the adjunct faculties of Burlington County Community College and Camden County Community College.
They were also active members of Cinnaminson’s St. Charles Borromeo Parish, where they raised their two daughters, Marisa and Renita.
Their connection with the Cathedral Parish began with Louise’s mother. She loved the bi-weekly Latin Mass offered there, and in the 1970s Nick and Louise began attending it with her. They too were drawn to the liturgy, especially the music, and after their daughters were past school age in the early 1990s, they formally joined the parish but still maintain a dual membership at St. Charles.
One Sunday, Msgr. James Howard, who was then pastor, said, “I have a job for you. We need help with the RCIA program.”
“You can’t say no to Msgr. Howard,” Louise said.
As often happens with willing workers, that “I have a job for you” turned into many jobs and has continued under the pastorship of Msgr. Michael McCulken.
Both Louise and Nick are extraordinary ministers of holy Communion, serving both in the church and hospital visitation. They still work with the RCIA program, and Nick is a lector. They count collections and Louise takes charge of wedding rehearsals. Most days Nick is in the rectory volunteering for whatever Msgr. McCulken wishes.
They spearhead a monthly social with coffee and cake in the parish hall. They are part of the Ambassador Program, greeting newcomers to the Cathedral and serving as docents on Cathedral tours.
Their daughter Marisa is also a lector and Renita, now Renita Brady, is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion.
“The Cathedral is a different kind of parish, and whatever they are offering we try to participate,” Louise said.
Spiritually, they also try to attend daily Mass, but if that’s not practical they may stop in at their other parish, St. Charles, for perpetual adoration.
The greatest satisfaction?
“I like to help people and talk to people,” Nick said. “There is an excitement at the Cathedral and camaraderie. Our best friends we’ve met through the Cathedral, they are like brothers and sisters to us.”
Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.
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