Story by Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor
Father Joseph Hlubik once used the term “quite providential” to describe how certain parts of his priestly journey unfolded.
The northern Burlington County native said it must have been “divine providence” that led him to return to familiar territory in 2008, when he was named parochial vicar of three parishes – St. Andrew, Jobstown; St. Clare, Florence, and Holy Assumption, Roebling. Then, months later, when he became administrator of St. Andrew (now part of St. Isidore the Farmer Parish) Parish, he recalled that the parish grounds were adjacent to what had been his grandmother’s home, and anytime he visited his grandmother, they had always attended St. Andrew’s for Mass.
“I had no clue whatsoever that I’d be back here, but I’m thrilled,” Father Hlubik said when he was interviewed in 2010 by The Monitor for a story on St. Andrew Parish’s 130th anniversary. Little did he know that seven years later, in 2017, a new appointment would come his way when he was named pastor of his home parish, St. Mary, Bordentown, and nearby Sts. Francis and Clare Parish, Florence Township. Father Hlubik served as pastor of St. Mary and Sts. Francis and Clare Parishes from July, 2017 to June, 2018. As of July 1, the two parishes were merged and became St. Mary, Mother of the Church Parish.
Father Hlubik, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University’s Cook College and master of science and doctorate degrees from Michigan State University, noted that his path to priesthood was a second career choice. Before entering St. Mary Seminary and University, Baltimore, to begin studies for the priesthood, he worked as a dairy specialist and an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University,
Ordained a priest May 15, 1993, for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in Pennsylvania by Bishop Joseph Adamac, Father Hlubik served as parochial vicar of two parishes. He also spent a year with the Marianist community in Boston, where he was chaplain in two hospitals and assisted in a parish. He then returned to Pennsylvania State University to serve as the Catholic chaplain from 1997 to 2001. In 2002, Father Hlubik returned to the Trenton Diocese and assumed assignments in Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown, where he was parochial vicar from 2002 to 2004, and St. Dorothea Parish, Eatontown. From 2004 to 2008, he served in The College of New Jersey, Ewing, as Catholic campus minister and an adjunct professor who taught ancient Christianity and Scripture. During this time, he was also chaplain of Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, Trenton, before becoming parochial vicar at Holy Assumption, St. Clare and St. Andrew Parishes. He was incardinated a priest for the Trenton Diocese in 2006.
A special honor came for Father Hlubik in 2015 when Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., announced that he and Father Vincent Euk, pastor of St. Veronica Parish, Howell, were each appointed as a “Missionary of Mercy” by Pope Francis. Bishop O’Connell explained that Father Hlubik and Father Euk had been among only 100 priests in the country and 800 worldwide selected for the appointment. Beginning on Ash Wednesday 2016, they received the mandate from the Holy Father to be preachers and confessors of “mercy,” the theme of the Holy Year that began Dec. 8, 2015.
Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, announced that the “Missionaries of Mercy” are “appointed exclusively by the Holy Father.” From the Holy Father, they received the faculty to forgive sins reserved for the Holy See. After Ash Wednesday and throughout the Holy Year of Mercy, the Missionaries of Mercy were available for liturgies, retreats and special events connected with the Holy Year