It is hard for me to believe that we are more than halfway trough July and I have not been to the beach even once. I am something of a beach bum since I was a young child. Growing up in Wildwood, it was frequently to the beach in the morning/afternoon and to the boardwalk in the evening with a babysitter, while my parents operated their hotel/restaurant business. That is, until I was old enough to work. Then, like most of the population in this seasonal resort town, I would tackle one or two jobs to earn tuition for Catholic school and to accumulate some spending money for the rest of the year.
Throughout the course of my life I have worked various summer jobs. Growing up in the restaurant business, I did everything from busboy, to waiter, to dishwasher, to short-order and prep cook, to cashier, to maître ‘d or host. Then I worked for a few years as a short-order cook at the Wildwood Diner—the 7 to 3 shift (making breakfast and lunch). I was employed as a checker (cashier) at the A&P Markets and in the deli for ShopRite. During my seminary days, I drove a truck and did some sales for the Wildwood Paper Company. But enough about my ancient past. The last thirty-three years have been as an ordained Roman Catholic priest.
Once a week, I usually spend an overnight with my mom who has a condo in North Wildwood. I check up on her, do some errands, cook a few meals, and keep her company. During the quarantine, I went three entire months without visiting her. Since she is now eight-six, I think it is ever-so-important to spend some precious time with her.
It is strange trying to get to know people in the parish as they are introduced to me with their face masks/coverings hiding their appearances. Don’t people intentionally wear masks to rob banks? It’s going to be hard for me to remember people’s faces under the current conditions and restrictions. Please be patient!
I have felt like I was living behind the iron curtain for my first week—no internet, no TV and poor cellular service in the rectory. I have had little contact with the outside world. The internet and TV should be installed this week. As for the cellular service . . . that’s another story. I have often thought that I might like being a monk. Maybe I need to re-think this? I have been warned many times to be careful of what I pray for because I might get it.
I will be spending some time getting to know the life and rhythm of the parish, unpacking my stuff and finding my way in this new locality. This part of Camden County is not as familiar to me as other parts of the Camden Diocese.
I probably echo the sentiment of many when I say that I hope things will return to some regularity or normalcy sometime soon. However, there is one thing that I am assured of despite the uncertainty of our times: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13: 8).
Everything else seems to be something of a crap-shoot these days.
Fr. Ed Namiotka
The North Wildwood Beach
The Wildwood Diner