25 Years and Counting – Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., addresses parishioners who filled St. David the King Church, West Windsor, Jan. 6 on the occasion of the parish’s 25th anniversary Mass. Jeff Metzner photos

25 Years and CountingBishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., addresses parishioners who filled St. David the King Church, West Windsor, Jan. 6 on the occasion of the parish’s 25th anniversary Mass. Jeff Metzner photos

By Mary Stadnyk | News Editor

Before a congregation that filled St. David the King Church to capacity, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., spoke of how fitting it was that the West Windsor parish saw the Feast of the Epiphany as the occasion to commence its 25th anniversary celebration.

Click HERE for gallery of photos.

“What a magnificent Catholic parish and church you have become: a beacon of faith and light and hope…a place and a community to seek and find God, to seek and find the Church, to grow and deepen what God calls us to be as Catholics,” said Bishop O’Connell, who was principal celebrant and homilist of a Mass in the West Windsor church Jan. 6. Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop O’Connell were Father Timothy Capewell, pastor, and Vincentian Father Charles Krieg, a longtime weekend assistant.

‘One of a Kind’

Making special mention that St. David the King Parish is the only parish in the United States named after David, who served as king of Israel for 40 years, the bishop said, “And, so, today, we celebrate ‘four kings’ – three for the feast (of the Epiphany) and one for our identity as a living community of faith.”

The bishop extended appreciation to Father Capewell “for his gentle, loving leadership since 1994” and to all present and those who had come before, “making this parish – like the star of Bethlehem – a light that has led so many to Jesus Christ, the King of Kings!”

The anniversary Mass and reception that followed were but one of a slate of activities that the parish has planned for the upcoming silver jubilee year which has as its theme, “Formed by Faith, Live in Hope, Serve with Love.” Other events on the parish calendar range from the spiritually-oriented parish missions, sacred music presentations and healing Mass, to a socially-geared Mardi Gras dance, parish picnic and jubilee dinner dance. The Dads and Grads Mass June 23 will engage families of the parish while Nov. 3 will be the occasion to honor the milestone anniversaries of three priests, Father Capewell, who celebrates 30 years of priesthood in 2013; the 50th anniversary of Father Krieg, and the 30th anniversary of Conventual Franciscan Father Jude Michael Krill, former weekend assistant. The parish will also congratulate Sacred Heart Brother Robert Ziobro, director of religious education, who marks his 50th anniversary in religious life this year.

A Busy 25 Years

Reflecting on parish life in St. David the King, Father Capewell marvels when he speaks of how the parish has blossomed from having 1,000 parishioners when he first arrived as pastor to the present 1,900 parishioners. He is also very proud of the parish’s many ministries, activities and organizations.

“Many things have changed in the past 25 years,” said Father Capewell. “Despite all the change, the vision of our parish is still the same. We want to be a community where all feel welcome, where the beauty and joy of the liturgy can fill us with God’s presence, and where the Eucharist unites us as one family.”

“Being pastor of this beautiful parish is the greatest honor and work I could have hoped for as a priest,” stated Father Capewell, as he acknowledged his flock. “This is a place of incredible generosity and joyfulness, a place of hospitality and hope. And it is you, the good people of St. David the King Parish, who make it that way.”

Parishioners spoke of how meaningful it was for them to witness their parish’s silver jubilee.

Having moved from northern New Jersey to the West Windsor area more than 25 years ago, Hank and Loretta Bercuk have many memories of seeing the new St. David the King Parish evolve from the beginning.

Loretta Bercuk talked happily about her longtime involvement in the parish’s social concerns efforts. “I am happy that my husband and I are part of this loving and giving community.”

“It is not an anniversary of bricks and mortar, but rather of the prayerful good people that dwell in it,” she said.

As one of the six original couples who helped to found St. David the King Parish in 1988, Lynn Thornton proudly speaks of how she and her now deceased husband, Gerry, were “parishioners from the beginning!”

Though Gerry died suddenly in 1989 and never had the opportunity to see the current church building, Lynn said she is heartened by how the parish kept his memory alive by placing a plaque in the gathering area in his name.

“This is appropriate in that Gerry was the unofficial, official greeter during the years” the Masses were held in West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, Lynn said.

 “We are blessed to have an extraordinary pastor who has the gift of being able to blend his spirituality with his humanity.  And, St. David the King is the most comfortable church to be in. It is open and welcoming,” she said.

Then with a smile, Thornton added that she doesn’t know of any other parish that has “reverse collections” at Mass. On special holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses are distributed to the parishioners, and on St. Patrick’s Day, the parishioners are treated to Peppermint Patties.

Parish History

St. David the King Parish, West Windsor, is unique in that it is the first Roman Catholic Church in the United States named after Israel’s great king and one of the few parishes named after an Old Testament figure.

The parish’s history dates back to the early 1970s when a group of some 50 families formed the Catholic Club of West Windsor and would gather in homes for prayer and Masses celebrated by the priests from St. Paul Parish, Princeton. As the Catholic Club expanded, the Masses were moved to Maurice Hawk Elementary School where they were celebrated until May, 1981, when the Catholic Club officially became a “mission parish” of St. Paul Parish. To accommodate the growing parish population, the need for larger facilities became apparent. The Masses were moved to the High School South gymnasium and on Saturday evenings were celebrated in nearby Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.

On Jan. 8, 1988, Bishop John C. Reiss officially elevated the mission parish, which had 750 families, to an independent parish and named Father John Wake as founding pastor.

With a building campaign underway, ground was broken for the new St. David the King Parish, which was to be built on the corner of Penn Lyle Road and a road yet to be constructed and named New Village Road, on Nov. 19, 1989. Two years later on Christmas Eve, 1991, the first Mass was celebrated in the new 17,500 square foot, 600-seat St. David the King Church. The following week, on the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 4, 1992, the church was dedicated by Bishop Reiss.

Father Timothy Capewell, was appointed the second pastor of St. David the King Parish in November, 1994, which had about 1,000 registered parishioners at the time.

To address the needs of the growing parish, Father Capewell added an extra Sunday Mass and received assistance for weekend Masses from the Vincentian priests who were living and ministering in St. Joseph Seminary, Plainsboro.  Father Capewell then turned his attention toward addressing the limited parking issue and space in the parish hall that was used for religious education classes, which were held during the week and on Sundays, as well as the various ministries. The parish purchased 5.5 acres of land adjacent to the church building and constructed a side entrance to the campus that provided for additional parking.

In 2007, plans were drawn to build a new $7.5 million, 21,000 square-foot addition to be known as the Faith Formation Center and Great Hall. In keeping with the spirit of a tithing parish, no capital campaign was introduced for the new project. Instead, the parish raised its funds through prayer, savings and tithing. Ground was broken for the new addition Oct. 26, 2008, and was dedicated by Bishop John M. Smith Nov. 21, 2010, the Feast of Christ the King. The Great Hall serves as an instructional center with eight classrooms for the PREP classes as well as a venue for various musical performances, pageants and dinner dances. The Faith Formation Center contains a spiritual reading room, four additional offices and an outdoor prayer garden that was dedicated Oct. 27, 2012.

In the lobby of the “small tower” stands a lasting memorial to the three parishioners who were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

About Father Timothy Capewell, pastor

Father Timothy Capewell, pastor of St. David the King Parish since 1994, was born in Trenton Nov. 11, 1946. He received his early education in Cathedral Grammar School, Trenton, Trenton Catholic Boys’ High School and Cathedral High School, Trenton, from which he was graduated in 1964.

Father Capewell was awarded a bachelor of science degree in education from Missouri State University (now Truman State University), Kirksville, Mo., in 1968, and a master of science degree in education from Monmouth College (now Monmouth University), West Long Branch.

His work experience included teaching in Missouri and New Jersey public school systems for several years. He also worked in the business world at the New York Stock Exchange for a Wall Street brokerage firm.

In September, 1979, Father Capewell switched career gears, moving from the business world to pursuing a vocation to the priesthood when he began studies in Immaculate Conception Seminary, Mahwah, where he received a master of divinity degree in June, 1982. He was ordained a transitional deacon in the seminary chapel Dec. 5, 1982 by Bishop John C. Reiss, and served his diaconate year assignment in St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Cinnaminson.

The day after his 37th birthday, Father Capewell was ordained to the priesthood Nov. 12, 1983, by Bishop Reiss in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.

Parishes where Father Capewell served as parochial vicar included St. Paul, Burlington; St. Paul, Princeton, and St. Theresa, Little Egg Harbor.

Bishop Reiss appointed Father Capewell to his first pastorate of St. David the King, West Windsor in November, 1994.

In addition to his parish duties, Father Capewell holds two diocesan positions. He is chairman of the diocesan building commission and is the dean for the Northern Mercer County Deanery.