PATERSON, NJ- Members of the Paterson Fire Department hosted more than 70 nuns and clergy for a special Christmas dinner on Tuesday.

The annual event which has taken place for more than twenty years was held at the Paterson Fire Headquarters on McBride Avenue.

“Firefighters use mealtime as a means of fellowship,” stated Captain Mike Trommelen. “We share a commitment to the community with the nuns that we have served every year, and it’s really special to us to be able to welcome them for this annual meal.”

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More than 40 firefighters helped prepare and serve the meal which consisted of turkey, pork loin, ham, flounder, as well as many sides and desserts. Among those who cooked were Firefighters Ralph Veltre and Mike Gallo, and Fire Captains Jason Macones and Joe Statuto.

Trommelen recounted that the tradition began as a way of thanking Sister Loretta, who provided spiritual support to injured Paterson firefighters at St. Joseph’s Hospital for years, for her support and caring. When Sister Loretta passed away in 2002 the Paterson Fire Department, Trommelen said, provided casket watch for her, a tradition normally reserved for firefighters.

Speaking of the tradition that has carried through the careers of many Paterson firefighters Jerry Behnke, President, Paterson FMBA Local 2, said that “it was great to see that nearly all of the 25 new firefighters that were just sworn in last month gave their time to be a part of this important event.” Their efforts, he said, show that their motto of “not just fighting fires” continues and “is as important today as it was 25 years ago when the dinner started.”