One small step forward, one giant leap of faith


Corbin Mazur, and the 173 other catechumens at the Rite of Election at Our Lady of Hope Parish’s Saint Agnes Church in Blackwood last Sunday, answered in the affirmative to Bishop Dennis Sullivan’s question: Were they confident in their desire to “enter fully into the life of the church through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist?”

It was a powerful moment not only for Corbin, but also for the woman who has loved and supported him, and has been a mother figure to him since his birth.

Eighteen years ago this month, Therese Ferrante-Ferry was approached by a friend, whose young pregnant daughter needed help. Ferrante-Ferry became a guiding force for the young Corbin, including taking him with her to Mass every Saturday night at Vineland’s Saint Isidore the Farmer Church.

Eight years ago, in the midst of troubled times for his biological mother, Ferrante-Ferry became Corbin’s official guardian.

“We’ve been talking for a while about me entering the Catholic Church,” Corbin said, and this year “felt like the right time. God was calling me.”

Last September, Corbin began weekly classes for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), a process in which Christians prepare to share in the Catholic tradition. Sunday’s Rite of Election was the next step for Corbin and the other catechumens on a journey that will culminate in five weeks, with them fully belonging to the Catholic Church with the reception of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Eucharist.

This year, 174 catechumens from 39 parishes were present in Blackwood for the Rite of Election.

“Therese would come with him to classes,” said RCIA coordinator Charles Schiapelli, who taught Corbin and other catechumens at Sacred Heart Center in Vineland, with three area parishes collaborating on their education: Christ the Good Shepherd (which Saint Isidore Church is a part of), Divine Mercy and Saint Padre Pio.

Corbin is a “dedicated, committed student,” Schiapelli said. As a teacher for the past four years, he finds his work “gratifying and fulfilling. True happiness comes from a close relationship with God, and another happiness is seeing people (like Corbin) find that same joy.”

Ferrante-Ferry joined the other sponsors last Sunday, responding positively when Bishop Sullivan asked them if the catechumens were “sufficiently prepared to be enrolled in the Elect” of the Catholic Church.

Schiapelli, along with the other parish catechists, walked up to the altar and presented Bishop Sullivan with his parish’s Book of Elect, signed by Corbin and the other catechumens, and marking their commitment to full communion.

“God’s blessing to me was Corbin,” Ferrante-Ferry said. A celebration at Easter time with Corbin, her husband Michael, and other family is planned.

Corbin couldn’t be happier, he said. “Everyday I thank God for her, and everyday I thank her for God.”