By Steve Sears
Fr. Dominik Bakowski didn’t see it coming.
On July 17, Archdiocese of Paterson Bishop Arthur Serratelli appointed him Administrator of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church Parish in Lincoln Park, this comes as a new challenge for the 37-year-old from Poland as he just became a priest in 2016.
Then, on September 14, Serratelli visited the parish to celebrate 5:00 p.m. Mass and, towards the end of the Saturday afternoon Eucharistic celebration, he stood before the congregation and announced that Bakowski was being appointed pastor and would soon be officially installed.
“I was shocked,” says Bakowski. “It was a huge surprise for me because I am only 3 1/2 years in as a priest. But I was very grateful to Jesus and to my bishop for giving me this chance. I am very happy here at Lincoln Park with my St. Joseph family. I care for my people from their birth with baptism to anointing them and saying their funeral Mass at their deaths.”
The date and time of Bakowski’s official installation is to be determined. He takes over for Fr. Thomas Mangieri, who was pastor from 2016 until his retirement on June 30.
For Bakowski, his schedule and duties for serving his new community, a congregation since the early 1900s, is different every day. “I say Mass, hear confessions, and visit the sick and dying. I also have meetings with people who have many different problems.” Also, he has been busy making small changes that will both sustain and increase the faith in the community. “So far, I have expanded our hours of Eucharistic Adoration, started having Mass at our nearby nursing home, and started a ministry for visiting the residents there called, ‘And You Visited Me’”. Bakowski would also like to work with people who have different projects and ideas for the parish. For now, his future plans are to start a Bible study, host a Santa Breakfast for Lincoln Park children in December, and next year to plan possible trips to Washington State, Oregon, and California.
For all, his is an open-door policy. “My office is open for everyone, not only for Catholics. If someone has a question about God or about the Catholic faith, we can talk together.”
Bakowski, who is interested in planes and enjoys sports like soccer, basketball, golf and swimming, he feels extremely welcome at his new home, and speaks proudly about the community. “We are one amazing family here at St. Joseph’s in Lincoln Park, and everyone has a special gift to make something beautiful happen in our parish and in our community.”
Finally, Bakowski has a special request of his parishioners and the reader. “I ask everyone to pray for me and for my vocation.”
St. Joseph’s Parish is located at 216 Comly Road, right off of Route 202, and can be reached by calling (973) 696-4411. More information, such as Mass schedules, activities, and parish bulletins can be found at www.stjosephparishnj.org.