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Man Disrupts Baptism at Notre Dame

Tells churchgoers he needs gas money to get back home.

A baptism was interrupted at Notre Dame Church in North Caldwell Sunday morning when a man entered the church during the 10:30 a.m. mass and began begging for gas money.

According to North Caldwell Police Chief Mark Deuer, Fr. Dominic Ciriaco of Notre Dame reported the disabled vehicle parked in front of the church entrance.

When police arrived they told the driver they would get him a gas can and drive him to a nearby station to fill it. The man told police he did not have any money to pay for the gas and that he would go into the church and ask people for help. Deuer said the man refused to listen to the police who advised him not to disrupt the baptism.

Inside the church, an eyewitness, who did not wish to be identified, said the man got the parishoners attention by yelling, “Excuse me!” He explained his plight and walked onto the altar where the christening was in progress.

The eyewitness said the man then sat in the priest’s chair and proceeded to cry. The man told the churchgoers that the police were not helping him and were threatening him, claims the North Caldwell police deny.

Fr. Anthony Randazzo and one of the church ushers approached the man and tried to console him. After a few minutes somebody offered the man money for gas and he was persuaded to leave the church.

The man was driven to a gas station to fill the gas can. He left the church once he had gas in his car. No charges were pressed in the incident, Deuer said. 

Deuer added that the man did not commit any offenses although he appeared to be emotionally unstable.

The car, a newer Mercedes Benz 320, was registered in Georgia, but the driver, who is 29, told police he lives in Bloomfield.

Scondo May 16, 2011 at 09:18 PM
Not an infrequent type of occurrence in many churches of the area these days.
Danelectro59 May 16, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Alllllll-righty then.
WCaldResident May 17, 2011 at 01:14 PM
As someone who was there, I can say that the man made no threats, was clearly distraught, and deserves our compassion as a fellow human being, not insensitive jokes.
wcmom May 17, 2011 at 10:42 PM
That man was disrespectful. If he can afford to drive "a newer Mercedes" he should afford gas as well.
Chris May 18, 2011 at 04:05 AM
I completely agree with 'Babs.' I do feel very sorry for the man, it seemed he was somewhat unstable (whether it was at the moment or something more serious). I was however, surprised that the police allowed him to make it all the way to the altar without physically restraining him. These days (with all the violence in schools and the workplace) who knows what could have happened. Luckily Fr. Anthony is one of the nicest people on this earth and was able to handle it with the help of a fellow parishioner.
WCaldResident May 18, 2011 at 03:39 PM
The article failed to mention that another parishioner ( who happened to be an armed FBI guy) took the man's arm when he reached the altar, to persuade him to go outside, and the man got upset and threw his arms up , yelled "don't touch me", then he fell apart crying. Imagine the fear a typical Caldwell person would feel if finding themselves lost, broke and out of gas in Newark, and afraid of the police as well. A church is a safe haven. The police had no reason to restrain him, and were trying to diffuse the situation, not make it escalate. As I stated before, he made no threat, just asked for help, and his paranoia and distraught state of mind explain his actions. Maybe he should have sat down and waited until Mass was over. Anybody out there ever make a mistake??? No??? Ok, you throw the first stone, as the Bible says.

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