During the years he served as episcopal vicar of Ocean County, Father Lukaszewski enjoyed traveling to parishes to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to young people and participating in Catholic high school baccalaureate Masses. This photo shows him addressing the graduates, faculty and parents of Mater Dei Prep, Middletown, during a 2017 baccalaureate Mass.  Monitor file photo
During the years he served as episcopal vicar of Ocean County, Father Lukaszewski enjoyed traveling to parishes to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation to young people and participating in Catholic high school baccalaureate Masses. This photo shows him addressing the graduates, faculty and parents of Mater Dei Prep, Middletown, during a 2017 baccalaureate Mass. Monitor file photo
In the weeks leading up to July 1, the day he would retire as pastor of St. Barnabas Parish, Bayville, Father Stanley P. Lukaszewski spent some time thinking about all he’s experienced in his 41 years of priesthood. One of many highlights was tallying the number of Sacraments he celebrated since his May 19, 1979, ordination day – 8,218.

“I can see how God opened many doors for me so then I could open doors and help lead others to him,” he said, as he gave the breakdown of celebrating 1,650 Baptisms, 4,090 First Holy Communions, 707 marriages and journeying with some 1,771 women and men preparing to “open a new door called Resurrection and eternal life.”

“I’ve been blessed,” he said. “All along I have had good mentors and good parishes where I loved and did my best to care for the people. What adds to the joy of my priesthood are the many friends I have made over the years, whether they are priests … or parishioners. To have good friendships that span many years is a remarkable gift that God has given to me.”

A Priest in the Making

Father Lukaszewski was born in 1950 in Trenton to Frank and Josephine Lukaszewski. Raised in a devout Catholic household, his family, which also includes his brother, John, worshiped in the city’s Holy Cross Parish (now part of Sacred Heart), where his priestly vocation was inspired. He recalled the priestly example set by Msgr. Thaddeus Wojciehowski, the longtime pastor, and other priests who served the parish during the years he was a student in Holy Cross School and through his being an altar server.

Any thoughts of the priesthood Father Lukaszewski may have had did not surface to the fore until well after he graduated from Trenton Central High School. He was working as a supermarket manager when, to his surprise, he was asked by a customer if he had ever considered becoming a priest. When Father Lukaszewski did not respond with a definite no, the customer suggested he speak with his son, who was Msgr. James McManimon, a longtime priest of the Diocese.

“And before I knew it, I found myself in St. Mary Seminary” in St. Mary, Ky., he said. His formation also included studies in Immaculate Conception Seminary, Darlington.

Varied Responsibilities

The years following his ordination by Bishop George W. Ahr led Father Lukaszewski to serve parish assignments in all four counties of the Diocese including two as parochial vicar in St. Mary Parish, Middletown, and St. Veronica Parish, Howell, and three as pastor in Corpus Christi Parish, Willingboro, 1994-1999; St. Denis Parish, Manasquan, 1999-2012, and St. Barnabas Parish, Bayville, from 2012 until his retirement.

Each of the assignments, he said, provided great learning experiences, whether it was the administrative duties of running a parish or the more spiritual in nature.

Father Lukaszewski also served in numerous diocesan positions, including as associate moderator and later moderator of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women; assistant director of the Priests’ Personnel Office for several terms; the Diocesan Building Commission; dean of Coastal Monmouth County, and the Educational Advisory Council Finance and Planning Committee. He appreciated his appointment as episcopal vicar of Ocean County, and especially enjoyed having the opportunity to travel to parishes around the Diocese to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation for young people. 

“I enjoyed being able to share messages about concrete things that were important to them,” he said. “I enjoyed meeting them at their level. The Confirmations will be something that I miss when I retire.”

As he settles into retirement in Villa Vianney, the diocesan retirement facility for priests in Lawrenceville, Father Lukaszewski looks forward to assisting in parishes with Masses and other sacramental celebrations. He is also grateful to have more time to spend with his family, which includes his brother and sister-in-law, his nephew and wife and grandniece.

“God wants to open doors for all of us, and if we trust in his love for us, we’ll know what to do,” he said. “We’ll know how to open the doors of life to let him in and lead us.”