Clergy, Staff & Leaders

Clergy

(973) 729-3136

A native of New Jersey, Mother Debbie has served in Episcopal Churches in the Dioceses of New Jersey, Washington, and Newark.  She began her career as a pediatric nurse and nurse practitioner, but followed God’s call onto another path.  An accomplished Celtic harper, Mother Debbie teaches harp and has released recordings and books of arrangements of Celtic music. Her Doctor of Ministry project thesis involved studying Celtic saints and the Baptismal Covenant, using music and art to help people explore their own spiritual journeys.

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Staff

About: Laura Lopez is excited to be active and working in the Church in which she was raised.  Laura graduated from Sparta High School, earned her degree in Music Education from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and is happy to be living back in Sparta where she is the Director of Choral Activities at Sparta High School.   She is very pleased that her two young children, Jack and Josie, will grow up in such a strong community.  Laura enjoys singing, playing the piano and viola, and is excited to be playing the organ.  Besides her commitment to music, she enjoys watching Rutgers Read more

Wardens

(732) 841-7927
About: Andy has been a member of St. Mary's since 2007 after moving to Sparta to become a band director at Sparta High School. In addition to his work on Vestry, Andy is also an active member of the St. Mary's Church Choir. He is proud to be a part of such a diverse, and passionate faith community and looks forward to seeing our congregation continue to grow in the coming years. Read more
Kathleen O'Brien
About: Born in Jersey City, Kathy moved to Sparta and joined St. Mary's in 1984.  She has served on vestry twice and was a member of the previous search committee.  She serves as a lector, chalice bearer, and is a part of the healing ministry. She also loves singing in the choir. She has 2 adult children and now resides with her rescue dog, Maddie. Read more

Vestry

Dan Riley and his wife, JoAnn, moved to Mount Arlington in late 2013, from Putnam County, NY . After checking out half a dozen local Episcopal churches, they joined St. Mary's six months later.  They have three adult children(two married and the other getting married in May) and a growing family of grandchildren, whom they see frequently.  Dan is very happily retired from IBM after 41 years in the IT and Finance fields. Dan and JoAnn are grateful for having found St. Mary's & it's extraordinary parishioners.  Dan will be maintaining the church web site and be the IT Administrator.

Ted Staszak and his wife Lisa live in Hamburg and have been coming to St. Mary’s for 5 years since moving from Nutley, NJ.  Ted is Director of Outside Operations at Cedar Hill Country Club in Livingston.  He enjoys volunteering his time with other St. Mary’s parishioners at the Eric Johnson House each month and in working with Family Promise.  Ted is the coordinator of the St. Mary’s Golf Group and enjoys spring, summer and fall fellowship with everyone participating in the group.  He is also pleased to be Golf Chairman for the annual Jim Nye Memorial Golf Outing.

(201) 874-7408

Jim was raised Roman Catholic, joined St. Mary's in 2013, and was received in 2014.

Jim grew up in Maplewood, NJ, but moved to the Sparta area in 1989. He lives in Sparta with his wife, Diane and their two adult children, Jamie and Justin. Jim leads a team at a large business services outsourcing company that administers the retirement savings plans for a major automobile manufacturer. 

Jim chairs the Outreach Committee. He also serves on the St. Mary's Foundation, ushering, and readings.

(973) 670-8162

Elsa and her husband Bob have been living in Sparta and members of St. Mary’s since 1989. They have two daughters, Elsa Jean and Laura. They have been blessed by three grandchildren Jack, Josie and Jacob. Elsa has taught high school Spanish her professional life and retired in 2015. As a member of St. Mary’s, she has taught Sunday school, is a member and treasurer of Altar Guild, ushers and recently has returned to help with Godly Play. 

Claudia and her husband Joel joined St. Mary’s in 2001 where they married, and later had their twins Tristan and Jolie baptized.  The Jennings consider St. Mary’s and its parishioners, an extension of their family, and a place where they have and continue to strengthen their faith.    

Larry and his wife Linda, were married at Saint Mary’s in 1968 and raised two children, Jenny and James.  

This is Larry's third time serving on Vestry. Larry has also served as Senior Warden twice and Chair of the St. Mary’s Foundation.

He is currently the co-chair of the Administration Committee, which he as actively participated on for serveral years.

Brittany Rockenfeller was born and raised at St. Mary’s (baptized here in 1994) and is excited to take her passion for communications and bring it back to the church. A 2016 graduate of Seton Hall University, she currently serves as the Marketing Manager for Pass It Along and lives in Branchville, NJ. She is proud to be the youngest serving Vestry member and is excited to see the church grow. 

Other Lay Leaders

Bill and his wife, Pat, have been members of St. Mary's for over 35 years. He has been Senior Warden three times and this is his third time as Foundation chair. In the Newark Diocese he has served on the Constitution and Canons Committee, Secretary for five years of the Department of Missions, and Vice-president of the Episcopal Community Development Corporation. He has been St. Mary's delegate to our annual diocesean convention numerous times. Bill is a graduate of the four year Education for Ministry  (EFM) program, a licensed Eucharistic Minister and a founding member of the St.

JoAnn and her husband Dan joined St. Mary’s in 2014, after finding their long-awaited retirement home on Lake Hopatcong.  

Before retiring, JoAnn had many small business clients for whom she did accounting and bookkeeping.  

She and Dan are blessed with 3 grown children & their spouses, and 5 grandchildren.  

JoAnn appreciates the vitality, commitment & strong faith of the St. Mary’s congregation, & is pleased to be a part of it.

(201) 600-1689

Cliff Cernek is the website and Facebook master, he handles the communication, photography and video needs for the Church.