Good things come in threes for Wayne County parish - Catholic Courier
Benjamin Vetter holds his 3½-month-old son Benjamin Christopher Vetter as Bishop Matthew H. Clark baptizes the infant during a June 5 Mass at Ontario's St. Mary of the Lake Church. Bishop Clark also celebrated the Mass and blessed a statue of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Benjamin Vetter holds his 3½-month-old son Benjamin Christopher Vetter as Bishop Matthew H. Clark baptizes the infant during a June 5 Mass at Ontario's St. Mary of the Lake Church. Bishop Clark also celebrated the Mass and blessed a statue of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

Good things come in threes for Wayne County parish

ONTARIO — Parishioners of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish had much to celebrate June 5, as they welcomed Bishop Matthew H. Clark to a special Mass during which he blessed a new statue of the parish’s patron and baptized a couple’s 3½-month-old triplets.

The idea for the special Mass came about after parishioners Edward and Maxine McDonald approached Father Symon Peter Ntaiyia, pastor, about contributing money to the parish in honor of Maxine’s late parents, Eleanor and Charles Duffy. Maxine said her parents had requested that she and her sisters — Sharyn Duffy of Geneseo and Roxanne Feeney of Henrietta — give back to the church.

"In the course of my discussion with them (about donating to the parish), I reminded them of the new parish saint," said Father Ntaiyia, referring to the creation of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish after the 2009 merger of St. Mary of the Lake Church in Ontario, Church of the Epiphany in Sodus and St. Rose of Lima Church in Sodus Point. "I suggested that we could use a new statue."

He said the McDonalds enthusiastically agreed, even after learning that the statue, imported from Italy, would cost three times the original amount they had intended to donate.

St. Maximilian Kolbe lived in Poland during World War II, was arrested and placed in the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz in 1941, and was killed the same year after offering to die in place of another prisoner. The statue depicts the saint in robes with a rosary, and includes his prisoner number (16670) and an upside-down triangle with the letter "P" to represent his Polish descent.

After the McDonalds agreed to purchase the statue, Father Ntaiyia invited Bishop Clark to preside over the Mass during which the statue would be blessed and revealed to the parish community.

Soon after these plans were made with the bishop, Father Ntaiyia said that Valerie and Benjamin Vetter called the parish to arrange a date to baptize their triplets, Chase Garrett, Benjamin Christopher and Kylie Quinn.

"We got a call back, and the parish asked if we would like to have the bishop baptize the triplets. We said, ‘Sure!’" Valerie Vetter told the Catholic Courier June 2.

Once all the arrangements were made for the June 5 Mass at St. Mary of the Lake, Father Ntaiyia said that he and parishioners eagerly waited for the special day to arrive.

"First of all, the availability of the bishop to come to our church when there is such a large diocese to concentrate on is excellent," the priest said. "I was also so excited for the blessing of the statue and the baptism."

On June 5 — which was the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ — Bishop Clark spoke of the baptism in his homily. He compared the triplets’ baptisms and the role the infants’ parents played in their births and lives to the need for people to be bread for others. He said that we are called to nourish one another by our words, examples, kind service and prayers.

Following the bishop’s homily, the Vetter triplets, their parents and godparents gathered around the baptismal font. The congregation responded with firm "I dos" during the renewal of baptismal promises, and the newly baptized children were welcomed into the church with an enthusiastic round of applause.

After the celebration of the Eucharist, Father Ntaiyia spoke about the journey the parish has navigated through during the past few years and thanked members of the parish council for their dedication. He also thanked the youths of the parish for the significant role they played in helping determine the name of the new parish as the three parishes worked to become one. He also expressed his gratitude to Bishop Clark for celebrating the Mass.

Bishop Clark then blessed the statue, which will be placed on a wooden base next to a statue of St. Joseph at St. Mary of the Lake.

After the Mass Maxine and Edward McDonald, who have raised five children in the parish, said it was "wonderful and awesome" to finally see the statue in the church.

Youth Minister Corey Ginett said the addition of the statue represents the ending of the lengthy pastoral-planning process and also the commencement of a new era as a united parish.

Also after the Mass parishioners were invited to a supper and a presentation of a slideshow of photos from parish council member Dennis Bielewicz’s 1999 trip to Auschwitz, during which he learned more about St. Maximilian Kolbe.

Father Ntaiyia said parishioners have embraced their patron and have visibly shown their dedication to him, citing the blessing of the statue and the purchasing of T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Faithful to the max!" The priest said he also continuously urges parishioners to act in the same compassionate and selfless way that St. Maximilian Kolbe did.

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