Father Timothy J. Capewell waves as parishioners of St. David the King, Princeton Junction, applaud following his final Mass as pastor June 25. John Batkowski photos
Father Timothy J. Capewell had been a teacher and worked on the New York Stock Exchange, but he received “an ever so subtle yet gentle whisper/nudge/push from the Divine.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Retirement -- Father Timothy Capewell
“I now know that I would not have been happier doing anything else,” said Father Capewell, who retired as pastor of St. David the King Parish, Princeton Junction, July 1, after a 40-year vocation as a priest.
“If you seek direction, a more meaningful and purpose-driven life, priesthood provides all that and more,” he said.
Born in 1946 in Trenton, he attended Cathedral Grammar School, Trenton Catholic Boys’ High School and Cathedral High School, all in Trenton. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Northeast Missouri State University, (now Truman State University), Kirksville, Mo., and a master’s in education from Monmouth College (now Monmouth University), West Long Branch.
Before he entered the seminary, Father Capewell taught history in the Missouri and New Jersey public school systems and worked for a Wall Street brokerage firm. He entered Immaculate Conception Seminary, Mahwah, in 1979, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree. He was ordained to the priesthood Nov. 12, 1983, by Bishop John C. Reiss in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.
Father Capewell served as parochial vicar in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Maple Shade; St. Paul Parish (now part of St. Katharine Drexel Parish), Burlington; St. Paul Parish, Princeton; and St. Theresa Parish, Little Egg Harbor. He was named pastor of St. David the King Parish, Princeton Junction, Nov. 4, 1994.
In addition to his parish duties, Father Capewell serves as dean of the Northern Mercer County deanery and is former chairman of the diocesan building commission.
Goals and Challenges
Counting among his goals as a priest a desire to “be present and productive” to people, he said he has worked “to be a good listener, yet challenge and invite others to look for and employ the power of God’s grace in their lives.”
“Most importantly, I am forever aware that I have five to 10 minutes each Sunday to touch people’s hearts,” he said. “Therefore, it is incumbent upon me to deliver contemporary, meaningful, pertinent and heartfelt homilies that give people hope [that] makes life worth living. That’s quite a challenge; hopefully, I’ve fulfilled that.”
Embracing challenges as they came, Father Capewell was pastor during the 2010 expansion of St. David the King Parish’s facility, with the addition of the Great Hall — a feature he called “a dream come true,” which helps to “serve the spiritual, educational and societal needs of our community of faith. Mission accomplished — paid in full.”
The pandemic and aftermath brought its own unique challenges, “which are still going on as we are down in attendance, which correlates to decline in revenue compounded by high inflation and economic uncertainty.”
Perhaps the greatest test, however, was the 9/11 terrorist attack. “It deeply affected the psyche of our parish, having lost three parishioners and seven relatives of parishioners,” he recalled. “The challenge was clear: to surrender to the dark side of society with its suspicion and fear or to see the power of grace and healing in the midst of smoke and ashes. We chose grace and healing, and we now walk by faith, live in hope and serve with love more than ever.”
A Vocation Well-Lived
Priesthood has been rewarding for Father Capewell in even the simplest ways, particularly “sharing in various joys and sorrows, the peaks and valleys in the lives of the faithful,” he said. “And through them all, hopefully, I was giving witness to the power of the Divine at work in their lives — and mine, too.”
Although he plans to focus on more reading and writing in his retirement, he quipped, “I’m sure you’re familiar with the ancient adage: ‘If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans!’”
“Here’s what I’ve learned and re-learned from the good people of David the King,” Father Capewell said. “Never give up hope. Always be generous, for when you give it away, you get it back. Watch and see for yourself as Scriptures come alive as you get back 30-, 60- and 100-fold when you give your life to Christ and his Church.
“What a beautiful life priesthood has been for me,” he added. “I am truly blessed and so unworthy of it all.”
Father Capewell’s family gathers with him for a photo. From left are Art Forman, wife Taylor and son John; Father Capewell’s sister Patty; Art Forman, Jr., and Leslie and Paul Mayer.