UPDATE: Msgr. Bacovin remembered for his love of God’s Word, priesthood

February 6, 2024 at 2:45 p.m.
Bishop O'Connell incenses the casket of Msgr. Ronald J. Bacovin during the Feb. 3 Mass of Christian Burial celebrated in St. James Church, Pennington. Joe Moore photo
Bishop O'Connell incenses the casket of Msgr. Ronald J. Bacovin during the Feb. 3 Mass of Christian Burial celebrated in St. James Church, Pennington. Joe Moore photo

By MARY STADNYK
Associate Editor

In a heartfelt tribute to Msgr. Ronald J. Bacovin, his closest friend, Father Roland Cloutier spoke about the passage in the Book of Ecclesiastes that “tells us that there is an appointed time for everything … a time to be born and a time to die.”

And while the time of death is “not in our control and can be difficult to bear,” Father Cloutier tried to encourage the hundreds gathered for the Feb. 3 funeral Mass to remember that “In our human grief, we must, through our tears, see our loved one sitting next to Jesus, free from pain and all that could harm him.”

Msgr. Bacovin, 83, who served as a priest of the Diocese for 57 years at both the parish and diocesan levels, died Jan. 24 after a brief illness.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., was principal celebrant of the Mass at St. James Church, Pennington, where Msgr. Bacovin served as pastor from 1999 until 2012, when he retired from active ministry.

More than 30 priests from the Diocese concelebrated, and Msgr. Bacovin’s family members — including nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews — participated in the Mass, serving as readers and gift bearers.

A Joy-Filled Man

In his homily, Father Cloutier recalled meeting Msgr. Bacovin 61 years ago when they were classmates at St. Mary Seminary, Baltimore, and how they remained close friends ever since — even though Msgr. Bacovin was a priest of the Trenton Diocese and Father Cloutier ministered in the Diocese of Norwich, Conn.

Father Cloutier then focused on many of the things that brought Msgr. Bacovin joy — his love of his family, priesthood, traveling, reading and walking. He said that, while in the seminary, Msgr. Bacovin developed a great fondness for the study of Scripture “and its application to our daily life.”

One of Msgr. Bacovin’s favorite Gospel stories, Father Cloutier noted, was the Road to Emmaus story, which was proclaimed at the funeral Mass.

Msgr. Bacovin’s love of Scripture and the priesthood are reflected in his love of that story, “which incorporates the realities of faith and humanity,” Father Cloutier said. He developed his point further by saying that when priests are assigned to a parish as a pastor or as an associate, “we are received as men of faith.” Priests take the grace of the Lord to their people, celebrate the Sacraments and console “as best we can at the time of death,” he said.

Most people only see priests on those occasions, but what parishioners do not see very often, Father Cloutier continued, is “the humanity side of the priest.”

“I’m not here this morning to canonize my good friend, Msgr. Ron, but rather, to remind myself, and all of you, of how his humanity was ferried about by his deep faith in Jesus Christ and in the Scriptures,” Father Cloutier said.

Speaking of Msgr. Bacovin’s love for his family and his service to the Church of Trenton, he said, “He was a brother, an uncle by blood to some and by friendship to others, a friend to many, a spiritual adviser, a confidant and a confessor.

“To me, he was my best friend for 61 years,” he said.

Working With and Serving With Msgr. Bacovin

The ways in which people had known, loved and served with Msgr. Bacovin varied, as people attested at the Mass and the Feb. 2 visitation.

Carol Tewksbury recalled encountering Msgr. Bacovin more than 50 years ago when she was a religious education student in St. John Vianney Parish, Colonia (now in the Metuchen Diocese), and Msgr. Bacovin was the priest who taught the class.

“He would bring his guitar and play songs for us,” Tewksbury said. “I have very happy memories of him.”

More than 50 years later, the two met again at St. David the King Parish, Princeton Junction. That was one of the parishes where Msgr. Bacovin served as a weekend assistant after he retired, and Tewksbury is the parish music minister.

“That was an incredible privilege — to be able to work with him so many years after we initially met,” she said. “He was such a holy priest.”

While Deacon Moore and Theresa Hank got to know Msgr. Bacovin as their pastor at St. James Parish, they also both worked for him, but in different capacities. Theresa Hank served on the staff in the diocesan Priest Personnel Office, where Msgr. Bacovin was director. Deacon Hank served as a pastoral associate in the parish.

“More importantly, he was our friend,” Deacon Hank said. He added that Msgr. Bacovin’s life reminded him of the “Trenton Makes — The World Takes” slogan that appears on the Lower Trenton Bridge that crosses between New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“Trenton did make the man who was loved by so many and, because he was loved, we took all what we could from him,” Deacon Hank said, “and because of that, we are all a better people.”

When Msgr. Bacovin was new to the parish and the Priest Personnel Office, Theresa Hank said she had initially offered to help him “get settled” into his new role at the Chancery.

But with a smile, she said, her position lasted longer than she had ever anticipated.

“And I’m grateful for that,” she said. “I’m grateful for the trust he placed in me” given the responsibilities that go when dealing with personnel records.

She recalled attending a funeral Mass with Msgr. Bacovin and the way he offered comfort to the grieving family.

“Instead of saying that their loved one stepped into heaven or stepped into God’s arms, he said that their loved one had stepped into love.

“That’s what’s been helping me these days since he died,” she said. “It’s knowing that Msgr. Bacovin is resting in peace and sleeping in love.”

.


Father Roland Cloutier, a priest of the Diocese of Norwich in Connecticut, preaches the homily for Msgr. Bacovin's funeral Mass. Joe Moore photo

 




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In a heartfelt tribute to Msgr. Ronald J. Bacovin, his closest friend, Father Roland Cloutier spoke about the passage in the Book of Ecclesiastes that “tells us that there is an appointed time for everything … a time to be born and a time to die.”

And while the time of death is “not in our control and can be difficult to bear,” Father Cloutier tried to encourage the hundreds gathered for the Feb. 3 funeral Mass to remember that “In our human grief, we must, through our tears, see our loved one sitting next to Jesus, free from pain and all that could harm him.”

Msgr. Bacovin, 83, who served as a priest of the Diocese for 57 years at both the parish and diocesan levels, died Jan. 24 after a brief illness.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., was principal celebrant of the Mass at St. James Church, Pennington, where Msgr. Bacovin served as pastor from 1999 until 2012, when he retired from active ministry.

More than 30 priests from the Diocese concelebrated, and Msgr. Bacovin’s family members — including nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews — participated in the Mass, serving as readers and gift bearers.

A Joy-Filled Man

In his homily, Father Cloutier recalled meeting Msgr. Bacovin 61 years ago when they were classmates at St. Mary Seminary, Baltimore, and how they remained close friends ever since — even though Msgr. Bacovin was a priest of the Trenton Diocese and Father Cloutier ministered in the Diocese of Norwich, Conn.

Father Cloutier then focused on many of the things that brought Msgr. Bacovin joy — his love of his family, priesthood, traveling, reading and walking. He said that, while in the seminary, Msgr. Bacovin developed a great fondness for the study of Scripture “and its application to our daily life.”

One of Msgr. Bacovin’s favorite Gospel stories, Father Cloutier noted, was the Road to Emmaus story, which was proclaimed at the funeral Mass.

Msgr. Bacovin’s love of Scripture and the priesthood are reflected in his love of that story, “which incorporates the realities of faith and humanity,” Father Cloutier said. He developed his point further by saying that when priests are assigned to a parish as a pastor or as an associate, “we are received as men of faith.” Priests take the grace of the Lord to their people, celebrate the Sacraments and console “as best we can at the time of death,” he said.

Most people only see priests on those occasions, but what parishioners do not see very often, Father Cloutier continued, is “the humanity side of the priest.”

“I’m not here this morning to canonize my good friend, Msgr. Ron, but rather, to remind myself, and all of you, of how his humanity was ferried about by his deep faith in Jesus Christ and in the Scriptures,” Father Cloutier said.

Speaking of Msgr. Bacovin’s love for his family and his service to the Church of Trenton, he said, “He was a brother, an uncle by blood to some and by friendship to others, a friend to many, a spiritual adviser, a confidant and a confessor.

“To me, he was my best friend for 61 years,” he said.

Working With and Serving With Msgr. Bacovin

The ways in which people had known, loved and served with Msgr. Bacovin varied, as people attested at the Mass and the Feb. 2 visitation.

Carol Tewksbury recalled encountering Msgr. Bacovin more than 50 years ago when she was a religious education student in St. John Vianney Parish, Colonia (now in the Metuchen Diocese), and Msgr. Bacovin was the priest who taught the class.

“He would bring his guitar and play songs for us,” Tewksbury said. “I have very happy memories of him.”

More than 50 years later, the two met again at St. David the King Parish, Princeton Junction. That was one of the parishes where Msgr. Bacovin served as a weekend assistant after he retired, and Tewksbury is the parish music minister.

“That was an incredible privilege — to be able to work with him so many years after we initially met,” she said. “He was such a holy priest.”

While Deacon Moore and Theresa Hank got to know Msgr. Bacovin as their pastor at St. James Parish, they also both worked for him, but in different capacities. Theresa Hank served on the staff in the diocesan Priest Personnel Office, where Msgr. Bacovin was director. Deacon Hank served as a pastoral associate in the parish.

“More importantly, he was our friend,” Deacon Hank said. He added that Msgr. Bacovin’s life reminded him of the “Trenton Makes — The World Takes” slogan that appears on the Lower Trenton Bridge that crosses between New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“Trenton did make the man who was loved by so many and, because he was loved, we took all what we could from him,” Deacon Hank said, “and because of that, we are all a better people.”

When Msgr. Bacovin was new to the parish and the Priest Personnel Office, Theresa Hank said she had initially offered to help him “get settled” into his new role at the Chancery.

But with a smile, she said, her position lasted longer than she had ever anticipated.

“And I’m grateful for that,” she said. “I’m grateful for the trust he placed in me” given the responsibilities that go when dealing with personnel records.

She recalled attending a funeral Mass with Msgr. Bacovin and the way he offered comfort to the grieving family.

“Instead of saying that their loved one stepped into heaven or stepped into God’s arms, he said that their loved one had stepped into love.

“That’s what’s been helping me these days since he died,” she said. “It’s knowing that Msgr. Bacovin is resting in peace and sleeping in love.”

.


Father Roland Cloutier, a priest of the Diocese of Norwich in Connecticut, preaches the homily for Msgr. Bacovin's funeral Mass. Joe Moore photo

 



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