RIP, Monsignor Richard Tofani

A most excellent priest passed away suddenly last week. Msgr. Richard Tofani was the pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Hainesport, Trenton Diocese.

Msgr. Tofani was a good man. He always helped out with my wife’s First Reconciliations, and several hundred of our parish children had their first experience of the Sacrament from him.

I remember him delivering a moving homily about depression once, and after mass one of my children (very young at the time) spoke to him about struggles with depression. Msgr. Tofani offered some comforting words, and finished by saying he’d remember my child in his evening office. “Why would you remember me while you’re in your office?” the child asked, to Father’s amusement.

I haven’t heard the cause of death yet, beyond the fact that he passed away while on vacation in Florida, following a long bike ride. From the obituary:

Well known for his love of the poor and dedicated work as Diocesan Director of Missions, Msgr. Tofani served all of his 34 years as a Priest in the Diocese of Trenton.

Born in 1951 in Oak Park, IL, one of three sons to the late Leo and Irma Tofani, Msgr. Tofani moved with his family to New Jersey and joined St. Peter’s Parish, Riverside, which is now part of Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish, Riverside. He was a graduate of St. Peter’s School, Riverside, and Holy Cross High School, Delran. Msgr. Tofani attended St. Joseph’s University, Philadel-phia, from 1969 to 1973, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. Following his college graduation, he took a job with Ford Motor Company as a district sales analyst. While still at Ford, Msgr. Tofani heard and answered a call to the priesthood and began studies in Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, MD, where he was awarded a Master of Divinity degree in Theology and a Master’s Degree in Sacred Scripture.

Msgr. Tofani served in Holy Name Parish, Delran, during his transitional Diaconate year, and was ordained a Priest May 19, 1979, by Bishop George W. Ahr in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.

Following his ordination, Msgr. Tofani returned to Holy Name Parish as Parochial Vicar, followed by assignments in Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, Mercerville, and St. Michael Parish, Trenton.

In 1986, Msgr. Tofani was appointed as Diocesan Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and Holy Childhood Association, a position he continued to hold as Diocesan Director of Missions, until his death. Msgr. Tofani visited over 25 developing countries in his role as Diocesan Director. Most recently, Msgr. Tofani was recognized during the 2013 Catholic Media Conference for his writing on Mission Work to the West African country of Benin, which was published in The Monitor.

In 1994, Msgr. Tofani was named to his first Pastorate at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Trenton, where he remained for eight years before being named parish administrator at Our Lady Queen of Peace, Hainesport. He was appointed Pastor there in December of 2005.

Msgr. Tofani was named Prelate of Honor of His Holiness (with the title of Monsignor) in 1997 and Episcopal Vicar for Burlington County in 2006 and 2010.

In 2011, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., appointed Msgr. Tofani as a member of the newly formed Episcopal Council for Clergy Personnel.

Throughout his life, Msgr. Tofani (Fr. Rick) was an avid cyclist who regularly participated in the 500-mile Anchor House Ride for Runaways, making his 21st ride this year and saying that he was happy to participate “in anything to help do our part to prevent what I think is one of the greatest evils in our culture- child abuse and the neglect of children.”

Eternal rest grant unto him o Lord,
And may perpetual light shine upon him.  

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