NORTH ARLINGTON —
When the Rev. Msgr. Bill Fadrowski was just a teen, as a student at Bayonne’s Marist High School, he knew early on that he had a vocation for the religious life. And so, right out of high school, in 1962, he entered the Marist Brothers, who had had an enormous impact on his life as a student.
He spent 25 years as a Marist brother, but something was really missing, he says — and that was the sacramental part of vocations that some men look for, while others don’t. So when he had a yearning for the sacramental Holy Orders, Fadrowski decided to leave the Marist Brothers to enter the seminary, with the hopes of becoming a diocesan priest.
In 1987, that dream became a reality when he was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark by then Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, now a retired cardinal and archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
Now, 29 years later, Fadrowski, whose first and only parish assignment as priest was at Queen of Peace — aside from many prominent positions in the archdiocesan chancery — is preparing to retire May 1.
Yet, while he will no longer be responsible for administrating a parish — perhaps one of the most daunting “jobs” one could ever hold — Fadrowski will not say goodbye to being a priest fully. In fact, you may just find he’ll be just as busy in retirement, only without the added pressures of being a pastor.
“I’ll be moving to Morris County and I’ll be a weekend assistant at a parish there,” said Fadrowski, the pastor at QP for the last 17 years. “While I won’t have the pressure of being a pastor anymore, I do still plan to be active in several ways.”
And indeed he will be.
On top of his new weekend ministry in Morris County [in the diocese of Paterson], Fadrowski says he plans to work with the prestigious Order of Malta and its program to build homes and infrastructure in Guatemala.
He’s already worked closely with the order — and has been to Guatemala at least twice a year for the last five years. But he says he wants to continue the great work being done in the impoverished Central American nation.
“They’ve already built over a thousand homes in rural villages, two schools, a medical clinic and so much more,” Fadrowski said. “The youngsters of Queen of Peace High School have been part of this important ministry as well. Continuing to work with the program will allow my priestly ministry to continue without the added pressures of being a pastor. It’s been life-changing.”
A true parish priest
There are priests — and there are true parish priests — men who live and breathe every single facet of their ministry. Fadrowski, who for three terms as pastor — and three years as a parochial vicar — loves so much of what that ministry entails.
He says he’ll miss so much of that — and the generations of families to whom he ministered.
“It was such a privilege to have been able to baptize so many young people who I got to see grow in their faith and in their love for Christ,” he said. “I’ll miss that. I’ll miss the young couples in pre-Cana [ministry to engaged couples seeking a church marriage], R.C.I.A., welcoming new people to the Church.”
Fadrowski also says he’ll miss a vitally important part of his ministry – something that might surprise most folks — celebrating funerals.
“That is a time to bring the compassion of Christ to those grieving,” Fadrowski said. “Death is an ultimate reality. Many don’t know how to deal with death. For me, it’s a time to bring hope to people in a very difficult situation.”
The monsignor says his affinity for funerals came to him because of a tragedy of his own. When he was just 13, his own mother died.
“So I have a special affinity for young people who are grieving, because I experienced it in my life at a very young age,” he said. “Whether a person is 18 or 98, grieving is real and to bring to the grieving that great vision, the promise of eternal life, is paramount.”
His legacy will live on.
Fadrowski says he was taken aback when he learned recently that a scholarship fund has been established, in his name, by the high school’s board of overseers. The goal is to raise $500,000 over the next three years so that many more young men and women — especially those who want one but can’t afford it — get a Catholic education.
“I was very humbled, yes,” Fadrowski said. “The idea is to pay for part of the cost for a Catholic education for those for whom it would normally be out of reach. No matter what the reason is for a struggle, we never want anyone who wants a Catholic education not to be able to get one because of finances.
“These days are so unusual, but I am so grateful this has all been done in my name.”
In all, Fadrowski will miss quite a bit of his pastorate at QP, but it’s the people he’ll likely miss the most, he says.
“This whole area, South Bergen and West Hudson counties, is just a great location with so many people with great faith — people who are very generous to the mission of the Church,” Fadrowski said. “I will miss it here, but I am confident my successor will continue the great work we’ve been doing here for so long.”
The Rev. Michael Donovan, who is the pastor of St. Leo’s of Elmwood Park, becomes the new pastor of the parish and president of QPHS upon Fadrowski’s departure. Donovan is the past president of DePaul Catholic High School.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.