Seventh Inning Stretch – Pictured on the portico of Villa Vianney, Lawrenceville, two days into his retirement, Msgr. Casimir Ladzinski looks forward to celebrating Mass around the diocese, volunteering and taking himself out to the ballgame.  David Karas photo

Seventh Inning Stretch – Pictured on the portico of Villa Vianney, Lawrenceville, two days into his retirement, Msgr. Casimir Ladzinski looks forward to celebrating Mass around the diocese, volunteering and taking himself out to the ballgame.  David Karas photo

Throughout the five decades of his priesthood, Msgr. Casimir H. Ladzinski has served the Trenton Diocese in many capacities including such key appointments as diocesan vicar general, director of priest personnel and episcopal vicar of Ocean and Burlington counties.

Over the years, Msgr. Ladzinski, who retired July 1 from Sacred Heart Parish, Bay Head, devoted a great amount of time, talent and energy to the greater good.  He helped spearhead the development of organizations such as Caregivers of Ocean County, which helped to meet the needs of a burgeoning elderly population, and Homes for All, Inc., which launched a successful effort for affordable housing in Toms River in 1986.

But when asked what memories he treasures most as he celebrates not only the 50th anniversary of his ordination but enters retirement as well, Msgr. Ladzinski answered without hesitation: “My years as a parish priest. I was always a parish priest,” he said. “I’ve said publicly that this was a very fulfilling and rewarding ministry.”

“The Baptisms, funerals, weddings are the most rewarding. It was wonderful to encounter so many people and be there for them at the most meaningful moments of their lives. I enjoy that [former parishioners] remember your role in their lives…how much it means to them that you were there for them,” said Msgr. Ladzinski.

He noted joyfully that all of this took place in the Trenton Diocese where he was born and bred. “I grew up in Delran and ended up in Ocean County,” said Msgr. Ladzinski with a grin. “I’ve had short stays in parishes and long ones. The last 25 years were spent in Ocean County and 10 years were spent in Middlesex before the diocese split.”

 “Each parish was different,” he said. “Each brought new challenges. In each one, I hoped that when I left, they were better off…there weren’t any easy assignments but they were very meaningful. In St. Joseph Parish, Toms River, for instance, the people built a new church and I signed the checks,” he said modestly.

As pastor of the parishes of St. Joseph, Toms River; St. Aloysius, Jackson, and St. Rose, Belmar, he was also in charge of schools and savors the memories of “seeing young kids graduate, marry and start their own families,” mindful of the contributions he made to their lives.

He savors sharing memories with former parishioners who seek him out with their stories of the impact he had on their lives. “People come up and say, do you remember me? You married us, you baptized our children, you confirmed me.”

Born in Cambridge (Delran), in 1937, Msgr. Ladzinski prepared for the priesthood at St. Charles College Seminary, Catonsville, Md.; St. Mary Seminary and University, Baltimore, and SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake, Mich. He was ordained for the priesthood May 26, 1962, by Bishop George W. Ahr in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.

Throughout his priesthood, he continued his studies, receiving master’s degrees in pastoral counseling and pastoral care from Iona College, New Rochelle, N.Y. and Princeton Theological Seminary, respectively.  He also studied in Jagellonian University, Krakow, Poland; Notre Dame University, South Bend, Ind.; the Theological Institute of the American College, Louvain, Belgium; and the Vatican II Institute for Clergy Formation, Menlo Park, Calif.

“I’m grateful to Bishop (John Charles Reiss) and Bishop Ahr for the opportunities they gave me to continue my studies,” he said.

On a parish level, his first assignment was as parochial vicar of St. Hedwig Parish, Trenton. While there, he served as a member of the diocesan Liturgical Commission and was Mercer County CYO director from 1965 – 1970.

 He went on to serve parishes including Holy Trinity, Helmetta; Sacred Heart, South Amboy; St. Justin, Toms River; Holy Innocents; Neptune; St. Stephen, Perth Amboy, and Blessed Sacrament, Trenton.

He was pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Toms River, from 1987 to 1996, conducting a building campaign for the landmark church on a campus that spans a city block in the heart of the Ocean County seat.

From 1996 to 2000, he was the pastor of St. Aloysius Parish, Jackson. He was named pastor of St. Rose Parish, Belmar, in 2000 and pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Bay Head, where he served from 2005 until his July 1 retirement.   

On the diocesan level his numerous appointments included serving as the president of the diocesan council of priests and the seminarian recruitment board of vocations and as a member of the core team of RENEW.

Appointed a Prelate of Honor to his Holiness in 1983, he said one of the greatest joys of His priesthood was administering the Sacrament of Confirmation to thousands of young people in his capacities as vicar general and episcopal vicar for Burlington and Ocean counties.

On the community level, he shared his insights and talents with organizations that range from Catholic Charities, where he is a member of the board of directors, to the hospital boards of Kimball Medical Center, Lakewood, and Community Medical Center, Toms River and the board of Georgian Court University, Lakewood.

In retirement, Msgr. Ladzinski looks forward to ongoing participation in the life of the Church, celebrating Masses around the diocese, volunteering and traveling and, hopefully, living out a long-time dream of “working for the Phillies during spring training.”