Statue blessing concludes Eagle Scout project at Chicopee cemetery
Story and photos by Peggy Weber
CHICOPEE – The statue of St. John, the beloved disciple, was blessed at Calvary Cemetery, here, Sept. 24, as the final phase of an Eagle Scout project by a young parishioner.
Addam Gelinas, 16, initiated the work with the help of his troop, family, cemetery custodian, pastor and parish community at Holy Name of Jesus Parish.
Gelinas carved out a Meditation Garden with mulch and rose bushes, facilitated the installation of a stone bench and replaced the statue of St. John. The statue had been missing for several years.
“Well I know a lot of the families that go to the church and have relatives in the cemetery. And there’s really no place to sit down and pray for loved ones. So I thought it would be a nice idea to have something for them,” said Gelinas.
The bench was donated by Bay State Monument and has the inscription: “On the wings of an eagle.” It was dedicated in May.
Gelinas said he received a lot of assistance from Wendell Mills, the cemetery caretaker and Josh Mills, Wendell’s son.
Gelinas proposed the project to his parish community from the altar at weekend Masses. He said he asked for people’s time, talent or donation of any kind. The response was tremendous and funded all the work.
Father Dariusz Wudarski, pastor, said the parishioners were enthusiastic. He blessed the statue at a twilight service and said Gelinas is a great example to all.
“It is very important, sensitive and inspiring to see young people taking initiative in beautifying or being interested in their religion. This is a prime example of a growing spirituality,” he said.
Gelinas is a member of Troop 454 from Holy Name Parish. His father, Bill Gelinas, has been his Scoutmaster for the last 10 years.
Bill said he “feels blessed” to participate in this project. He noted, “They’re a great bunch of kids in this troop.” And he said that his son also has earned several important awards from the Catholic Church in addition to his Eagle Scout ranking.
Several younger Scouts were at the blessing on Tuesday.
“When I was little I thought Eagle Scouts looked really proud and I wanted to be just like them,” Addam said. “And now I am.”
A junior at Chicopee High, Addam said he is glad to see St. John back in the scene from the Crucifixion. “My grandparents are buried here. And I came here as a child all the time and the statue of John was never here,” he said.
He added that he is glad that the Meditation Garden is being utilized.
“My uncle lives right across the street from here and he says he sees a lot of people over here all the time. They are just sitting around praying. So it feels really good to know it is being used.”
A video version of Addam’s project will be featured on an upcoming edition of the Springfield Diocese’s weekly newsmagazine, “Real to Reel,” which airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.