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Boland family, Westborough altar server honored

Posted By May 24, 2012 | 12:21 pm | Lead Story #1
Meaghan Boland Mass & reception SBS 8-13-11 138WEB

 

The people honored as Altar Server of the Year and Family of the Year by the Massachusetts State Council of the Knights of Columbus are from the Worcester Diocese this year.
At the Knights’ annual convention in Hyannis May 5, Massachusetts State Deputy Michael Baldner recognized a seventh-grader who serves at St. Luke the Evangelist Parish Westborough and a family active at St. Bernadette Parish Northborough. They were chosen from among Altar Servers and Families of the Year honored by councils throughout the state, according to Herman Millet, state family programs director and a member of the John Boyle O’Reilly Council # 85, Westborough.
Here are their stories.

By Tanya Connor

NORTHBOROUGH – Michael Boland’s brother is in seminary. Their sister is in a convent.
“To me it’s not very weird,” the 19-year-old says. “If you’re living it, it’s not as crazy as if you hear about it from somebody else.”
Not crazy, but exemplary, to some people, including their pastor and the Knights of Columbus.
The Bolands were recently recognized as the Massachusetts Knights of Columbus Family of the Year. The Knights and family members provided the following information about some of the things they’ve done.
Thomas Boland is Past Grand Knight of the St. Augustine Council # 5724, Northborough, which he also served in a variety of other positions, and a Fourth Degree Member of the McSweeney Assembly # 400. He is an usher at his parish, St. Bernadette, and a lieutenant with the Marlborough Police.
His wife, Virginia, is St. Bernadette’s director of religious education and an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist.
Their children were altar servers and worked at the parish during the summers. The younger two attended St. Bernadette School after it opened.
Their son James, 26, is now a seminarian for the Worcester Diocese, studying at St. John Seminary in Brighton and serving parishes in the diocese in the summers.
Their daughter, Meaghan, 22, is a postulant with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Michael, who just finished his freshman year at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, is doing maintenance at St. Bernadette’s this summer – on the pastor’s condition that he attend weekday Mass before work.
“I would describe them as simply a great Catholic family,” said that pastor, Father Stephen M. Gemme. “To have a child become a priest, and a child enter religious life, is a great blessing from God, and I think that says a lot about their family. I think they really set an example for families today about living their faith and putting that faith into action.”
Father Gemme said Michael witnesses to confirmation students, helps with the eighth-grade retreat and spoke at Masses to encourage parishioners to support teenagers attending the upcoming Steubenville East youth conference.
“It’s not like we set out to have kids enter the religious life,” Mrs. Boland said. “God has his plan and I guess we have to be open to that. … The Knights have been very generous,” annually helping with James’ seminary expenses and donating and cooking the food for a dinner that nearly paid off Meaghan’s loans so she could enter the convent. Mrs. Boland said she and her husband will pay off the relatively small amount of the $30,000 not raised through the dinner and accompanying fundraisers, with which parishioners and pastor were also heavily involved.
“I’m just trying to figure out what God wants me to do,” Michael said of his vocational discernment. “God hasn’t told me yet. I definitely feel I’m where I’m supposed to be right now” – studying philosophy and theology at Franciscan University.
Asked what he would tell other families, Michael said prayer is “the driving force behind whatever is happening with our family.”
“I don’t know if any of us would have been where we are now without my mom’s prayer,” he said.
“I think…the novena here (in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette) has always been a powerful form of prayer,” Mrs. Boland said. “I bring a lot of intentions to that novena every year. I pray for my family during that novena.” She said she also goes to daily Mass and adoration, and adoration has been part of her husband’s life and the lives of their children.
Mrs. Boland and Michael praised the prayerfulness of Mr. Boland’s grandmother and Mr. Millet shared the following from an e-mail Mr. Boland sent him.
“My grandmother got her driver’s license at 60 years old, and bought a car, and I have often thought it was just so she could drive my brothers and me to every Catholic Church around the Diocese of Worcester. How did she get us to go? She told us that each time you visit a new church, you get three wishes.  We couldn’t wait to go.
“Through her inspiration is where I believe I got most of my devotion to my faith… She always had us ask St. Anthony if you lost something and say three Hail Marys when in trouble or for someone in need, like if you saw a disabled person or something. Not out of pity but that maybe today could be an easier day for them than yesterday was.  So my big prayer has always been to Mary this way or the rosary.”
Asked what she would tell other families, Mrs. Boland said, “I always told my kids to put God at the center of everything they do, and the rest will fall into place.” She said she recently shared this with the parish’s confirmation students.
“And be open to God’s plan for you and for your children,” she added. “Mary’s ‘yes.’”
She praised Father Gemme, saying, “I honestly think that’s part of why the kids entered religious life: his example as a priest and his encouragement.”
Mrs. Boland said her husband wears a St. Michael medal and the crucifix their daughter gave him when she removed her jewelry to enter the convent. When Meaghan was little he joked that they didn’t need to save money for her wedding, as she would become a religious sister, the mother said.
Now, Mrs. Boland said, she and her daughter, who gave up her cell phone and is limited on the number of letters she may write, correspond about the spiritual reading they’re doing. And when a religious book disappears at home, she discovers that one of her sons wanted to read it.
“It’s sharing the faith journey together,” she said of her children. “I learn from them.”
“It was very humbling to listen to what they read about our family, because you don’t really think about it,” Mrs. Boland said of the Knights at the convention. “We’re involved here at the church; it’s always been part of what we did.”

Altar server gets award

By Tanya Connor

WESTBOROUGH – Being recognized as the Massachusetts Knights of Columbus Altar Server of the Year gave Stefani Giegucz the opportunity to serve with two bishops – and make them birthday cards.
The 13-year-old said she has been serving at her parish, St. Luke the Evangelist, since she was in third grade. But the first time she served with a bishop was at the Knights’ convention Mass, celebrated by their State Chaplain, Bishop Robert Hennessey, auxiliary bishop of Boston, she said.
The certificate of appreciation she received there said, “In grateful recognition for his service,” Mr. Millet said. So when the corrected certificate, changing “his” to “her,” came in before the May 12 Worcester Diocese’s Men’s Breakfast, she was asked to serve at Mass there with Bishop Reilly, who presented it to her.
When she’s not serving Mass with bishops, Stefani plays basketball, throws the shot put, plays the viola in the Gibbons Middle School Orchestra, and composes some of her own music. And she does it all single-handedly.
You see, Stefani was born without a left hand. But she doesn’t let that hold her back.
“Never say ‘never,’” she told The Catholic Free Press in an interview last week. “Never give up. You can always find a better way to do something.”
When she was younger, friends used to help her climb on playground equipment, she said. But, she said, “I found a way to do it without them.”
“She always found a way to do it – whatever it was,” said her father, Stanley Giegucz, a member of the John Boyle O’Reilly Council # 85, Westborough.
The Shriners Hospital in Springfield developed an attachment to a prosthetic for her, with a clamp to hold the bow while she draws it across the viola strings with her left arm, he said.  But the basketball league won’t let her wear a prosthetic, for fear other players could get hurt. And Stefani said she doesn’t need a prosthetic to throw the shot put or serve at the altar.
“There’s no reason why anything should limit her,” said her mother,  Zbysia Giegucz.
“We’re proud of her,” said her father. “I’d like to thank the Knights of Columbus for taking the time to recognize the youth of our community.”
Mrs. Giegucz said their family learned about the recognition from Mr. Millet.
“I was sort of shocked,” Stefani said. “Nobody else in my family had an award like that before.”
The other altar server in her family was her brother, Stefan, who is eight years older. (Her sister, Stasia, 10 years her senior, didn’t serve at the altar.)
“She wanted to be up there with her brother,” their mother explained. “They were up there together for a number of years.”
Stefani is still up there.
“I feel really proud standing up at the altar,” she said; it feels good doing a good thing. And she’s the only one doing it two weeks a month at the 7:30 a.m. Sunday Mass, she said. (Usually servers serve once a month, with two other servers, her mother said.)
“She brings a joyful elegance to serving at the altar,” said her pastor, Msgr. Michael G. Foley. “She takes on the more inconvenient times to serve. I was very proud. I thought it was an excellent choice” to pick her as Altar Server of the Year.
“The 400 families at the convention all wanted to give her a big hug,” said Mr. Millet. “They loved her.”
“It was really neat,” Stefani said of serving with Bishop Hennessey. “It was nice to serve with the bishop. It was his birthday on April 20. I made him a card with a cardinal on it. When I make birthday cards, I usually draw animals.”
Why a cardinal?
“I saw a male cardinal. He was a bright, bright red.”
Upon giving the card to the bishop “I said, ‘A little cardinal told me it was your birthday on April 20.’”
Her father spoke of her honor of serving with Bishop Reilly.
“It was his birthday too,” Stefani said. So she made him a card with Columbus’ ship on it – for the Knights of Columbus. After all, she enjoys being part of “the best art club,” an extra curricular activity at school, and volunteers with Westborough Fine Arts, a parent group that does fundraising to support the fine arts in the school system.        What does this multi-talented server hope to do in the future?
“I really want to be a special education teacher,” Stefani says. “My mom’s a special education teacher. I worked with her kids in the summer. I really liked working with them. It’s really special to me to see a smile on their face.”