Father Edward J. Griswold receives the Robert F. Leavitt Award for Leadership in Pastoral Excellence by St. Mary Seminary and University, Baltimore. Courtesy photo
Father Edward J. Griswold receives the Robert F. Leavitt Award for Leadership in Pastoral Excellence by St. Mary Seminary and University, Baltimore. Courtesy photo

For Father Edward J. Griswold, it came as a surprise when he learned he had been named the recipient of the Robert F. Leavitt Award for Leadership in Pastoral Excellence by St. Mary Seminary and University, Baltimore. 

Father Griswold, a priest of the Diocese of Trenton who ministered in St. Mary Seminary and University as a faculty member, vice rector and director of pastoral formation until his 2017 retirement, was presented with the award during the institution’s annual Alumni Day celebration Oct. 22. The award is named for Father Robert Leavitt, who served as the institution’s president rector from 1980 to 2007. 

Born in 1946 in Newark, Father Griswold attended St. Joseph School, Keyport, and Red Bank Catholic High School, Red Bank. He prepared for the priesthood in St. Charles College Seminary, Catonsville, Md., and St. Mary Seminary and University. He was ordained a priest April 7, 1973, by Bishop George W. Ahr in St. Ambrose Church, Old Bridge, where Father Griswold had served as a transitional deacon.  

His first assignment as a newly ordained priest was as parochial vicar in St. Matthias Parish, Somerset, where he remained for seven years. During that time, he was also assigned to work part-time in the diocesan Office of Vocations. In 1979, he was named the office’s director. 

In addition to his diocesan duties, Father Griswold’s subsequent parish assignments included serving as parochial vicar and then temporary administrator of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Hightstown, and as temporary administrator of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Cinnaminson. 

In 1987, Father Griswold was named executive director of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors in Chicago, and his career took an academic turn when he was named associate dean of formation at Mundelein Seminary, Chicago, where he served for four years. 

In 1995, he returned to the Diocese of Trenton and became pastor of St. Mary Parish, Colts Neck. He was also diocesan director of continuing education and formation of priests, and president of the Priest Presbyteral Council. Twelve years later, Father Griswold became pastor of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square.  

Wanting to improve his own preaching skills, Father Griswold pursued studies in homiletics, and went on to receive a doctor of ministry degree in preaching from the Aquinas Institute of Theology at St. Louis University, St. Louis. 

After two years in St. Gregory the Great Parish, Father Griswold accepted an invitation to join the faculty of St. Mary Seminary and University as a teacher of homiletics. He subsequently was named the seminary’s vice rector and director of pastoral formation department and held the Knott Chair in Homiletics. 

Father Griswold’s plans following his retirement in 2017 included doing a research project on the history of preaching 50 years before and after the Second Vatican Council.