Wayne County parish honors six with papal blessings - Catholic Courier
A priest congratulates two people.

Joseph and Carol Bradbury receive their papal blessing from Father Symon Peter Ntaiyia. (Photo courtesy of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish)

Wayne County parish honors six with papal blessings

Six people received blessings from Pope Francis Jan. 27 at St. Mary of the Lake Church in Ontario.

Four were honored for their years of dedication to parish ministry, and two others were recognized for being ambassadors of the parish in the wider community, according to Father Symon Peter Ntaiyia, pastor of the Catholic Parishes of Western Wayne County, which comprises St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Ontario and Sodus, and St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Palmyra and Macedon.

“On behalf of the community you have served so much, we asked our Holy Father to bless you and your family,” Father Ntaiyia explained as he presented the parchment documents to the six honorees.

Cindy Showman, Jean Riley, Diane Doyle and Joe Bradbury each have logged decades of involvement with music ministry at St. Mary of the Lake, which is one of St. Maximilian Kolbe’s two worship sites. Bonnie Doyle was honored for her 33 years of volunteer service to Pines of Peace in Ontario, where she cared for terminally ill people in their last days. And Mary Ann Doyle was recognized for her commitment to her Catholic faith while logging a distinguished career as a faculty member and administrator at the University of Connecticut’s School of Education, Father Ntaiyia said.

Papal blessings let people know their faith is seen, recognized

Father Ntaiyia has been applying for papal blessings for several parishioners each year since at least 2015, he said. He works with the apostolic nuncio — or ambassador of the Holy See to the U.S. — to procure many of these blessings, and he applies for some through the Vatican’s Office of Papal Charities. He typically chooses no more than three people from each of his parishes in a given year, because he doesn’t want to dilute the sense of respect and appreciation he hopes the blessings convey to those who receive them, Father Ntaiyia said.

There is no set criteria he keeps in mind when deciding who should be honored in a given year, Father Ntaiyia added. In most cases, something about the way a person lives out his or her faith catches his attention and inspires him to want to honor that person, he said.

“I have to be moved by what people do for others and what they are,” Father Ntaiyia said. “I want someone to take (the blessings) as a token of, ‘We see you.’”

Blessing recipients are gifts from God, provide examples of faith

The people Father Ntaiyia has chosen to recognize in previous years have represented diverse facets of parish life. He has at times recognized parents who have encouraged their teenage children to volunteer in the parish and attend Mass regularly. On several occasions, he has honored women who volunteer to wash and care for the altar linens used during Mass, and one year, he recognized several people who faced significant physical challenges yet did not allow those challenges to keep them from attending Mass regularly.

“I tell the people on behalf of this community you have given us an example of faith. You are like any person, but today we recognize you for this,” Father Ntaiyia said.

The parishioners who are recognized often react with surprise when they’re presented with the blessings from Pope Francis, Father Ntaiyia said.

“On occasion they have tears of joy. They ask, ‘How am I out of all of these people chosen?’” Father Ntaiyia remarked. “I tell them they are a blessing from God. We ask for (the blessings) through the Holy Father because of what they are to the church of God.”

Four of most recent honorees have been music ministers for several decades

Father Ntaiyia typically selects recipients himself, but in a break from tradition, four of the most recent honorees were recommended by Doreen Biviano, the music director at St. Mary of the Lake Church, he said. Each of the four has dedicated many years to the music ministry at the church, Biviano noted.

Diane Doyle served as the volunteer organist at St. Mary for approximately 30 years, while Showman, Riley and Bradbury each have been singing in the church choir since the 1970s. Showman, Riley and Bradbury also spend countless hours studying the readings for weekly Masses and selecting the hymns for each celebration, Biviano said.

All four honorees also are very active volunteers with other parish ministries as well, Biviano added.

Tags: Pope Francis, Wayne County News
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