Father Thomas F. Gardocki, who spearheaded the building of the new church at Corpus Christi Parish while the pastor there, died March 23 at home following a long illness. He was 77 and had been a priest of the Diocese of Wilmington for 52 years.
Father Gardocki was born in Michigan and attended Catholic schools there. He played football and boxed at the University of Notre Dame before being ordained at St. Peter Cathedral in 1965.
He served as an associate pastor at St. John’s-Holy Angels, Newark and St. Hedwig’s, Wilmington. In 1970 he became the administrator at St. Hedwig’s and pastor three years later. He was transferred in 1987 to Corpus Christi in Elsmere and oversaw the building of the new church, which was completed in 1991. He retired from parish work in 1995.
Father Gardocki held a master’s in education from the University of Delaware. He also had served as dean of the City Deanery, national treasurer for the Catholic Conference on Ethnic and Neighborhood Affairs, and president of the Alumni Association of St. Mary’s Seminary.
After leaving parish work, he continued his ministry as a psychologist; he received a doctorate in psychology from Immaculata College in 2002. He was a volunteer counselor at Ferris School and continued to assist in parishes by celebrating Mass.
He was also on the board of Catholic Cemeteries, consultor for the diocese, president of the Priests’ Council and chaplain of the Elsmere fire and police departments, the Notre Dame Club of Delaware, the Union of Polish Women, and the Polish Library Association.
Mass of Christian Burial was March 29 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Wilmington, with burial in Cathedral Cemetery. Donations in Father Gardocki’s name can be made to Ss. Cyril & Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake, MI 48324.