Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Appeal for Quiet Tide

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Appeal for Quiet Tide

Article excerpt

As religious leaders performed an ancient blessing of the flood- prone Passaic River on Thursday, municipal leaders of riverside communities contemplated continuing their earth-bound efforts at flood prevention in the New Year.

On the John M. Sczerbak Memorial Bridge between Wallington and Passaic -- commonly known as the Market Street bridge -- a Byzantine Catholic priest and bishop performed "The Great Blessing of Water," praying for the river to be sanctified and pure.

It's one of the customs of the Feast of the Theophany, which was celebrated Wednesday, to bless the nearest moving body of water, said the Rev. Jack Custer of the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel in Passaic.

However, it's the first time in the church's 120-year history that the outdoor blessing has been performed, he said.

"Our desire is to do something positive for our communities," Custer said to the 60 or so people in attendance. "Our desire is to pray for a positive change."

A motorboat appeared in the river below, manned by four members of the Wallington Emergency Squad. One of them held a lighted, three- pronged candle. The blessing began.

In hymns and prayers uttered in a chanting tone, those gathered faced the river and asked that it protect and purify them.

During the blessing, Wallington Mayor Mark Tomko considered how to protect his borough from flooding.

The Passaic River, which is joined by the Pompton River in Wayne, regularly floods in heavy storms, and long-range plans are proceeding to mitigate the flooding threat with possible measures ranging from local open-space acquisition and clearing of the riverbed to intervention with heavy construction by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In Wallington during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, three homes were destroyed, 1,000 residents were ordered to evacuate and property damage was extensive. …

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