Home   |  About Us   |  Contacts   |  Products    
 News Items
 Top Stories
 News Briefs
 Vatican
 Origins
 Africa
 Headlines
 Also Featuring
 Movie Reviews
 Sunday Scripture
 CNS Blog
 Links to Clients
 Major Events
 2008 papal visit
 World Youth Day
 John Paul II
 For Clients
 Client Login
 CNS Insider
 We're also on ...
 Facebook
 Twitter
 RSS Feeds
 Top Stories
 Vatican
 Movie Reviews
 CNS Blog
.
 For More Info

 If you would like
 more information
 about Catholic
 News Service,
 please contact
 CNS at one of
 the following:
 cns@
 catholicnews.com
 or
 (202) 541-3250

.
 Copyright

 This material
 may not
 be published,
 broadcast,
 rewritten or
 otherwise
 distributed,
 except by
 linking to
 a page on
 this site.

.
 CNS Story:

ROCHESTER-FIREFIGHTERS Dec-27-2012 (570 words) With photo. xxxn

Parishioners mourn firefighters ambushed while responding to blaze

By Amy Kotlarz
Catholic News Service

WEBSTER, N.Y. (CNS) -- Christmas Masses in the Diocese of Rochester, N.Y., took on a somber tone as parishioners mourned two volunteer firefighters fatally shot while responding to a fire in a lakeshore community outside of Rochester.

Firefighters Michael Chiapperini, 43, and Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, died in a hail of gunfire Dec. 24 after being lured to a blaze that New York State Police said was set by the gunman.

Two other firefighters, Joseph Hofstetter and Theodore Scardino, were injured in the ambush and remained hospitalized in satisfactory condition Dec. 27.

Police said William Spengler Jr. ambushed first responders before turning a gun on himself. Police are also investigating the remains of another victim found in the charred ruins of the home that Spengler shared with his sister, Cheryl Spengler.

The fire eventually destroyed seven homes as first responders delayed battling the inferno until police secured the neighborhood located on a narrow strip of land along the Lake Ontario shore.

Many people at St. Rita Parish in Webster were touched by the tragedy, said Father Lance Gonyo, pastor. Kaczowka occasionally attended Mass at St. Rita when he was unable to make it to his home parish of St. Stanislaus, where he had been active with the Polish community and had been an altar server, staff members of both parishes said.

A funeral Mass for Kaczowka was scheduled for Dec. 31 at St. Stanislaus Church. He is survived by his parents and two brothers.

Chiapperini, a volunteer firefighter for 25 years, previously served as chief of the West Webster Fire Department. He also was a lieutenant in the Webster Police Department, serving most recently during his 19-year career as public information officer. He was named Firefighter of the year in mid-December.

Chiapperini's funeral was scheduled for Dec. 30 at Webster Schroeder High School. He is survived by a wife and three children.

Father Gonyo told the Catholic Courier, newspaper of the Diocese of Rochester, that Kaczowka was well respected and well liked.

Several members of the West Webster Fire Department belong to the St. Rita Church, and parishioners are praying for them, as well as the two firefighters injured in the attack and the families who lost their homes in the inferno, Father Gonyo said.

"It weighs heavily in everybody's mind," Father Gonyo said.

During Christmas Masses at St. Rita, Father Gonyo read a firefighter's prayer. He noted that Jesus was born into a time of turmoil and that God is present in the midst of tragedies and troubles.

"Incidents like this underscore the great importance of our need for God," Father Gonyo said.

Hofstetter and Scardino released a statement Dec. 26, thanking the community and nation for their support.

"We deeply appreciate your compassion and support as we focus on recovering from our physical wounds," they said in the statement. "We are humbled and a bit overwhelmed by the outpouring of well wishes for us and our families. We are in good hands and want everyone to know that even though we are able to accept only close family visitors, we are so very grateful for your prayers."

"Like so many others, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka, and with those who lost their homes," the statement continued. "Please consider directing any acts of kindness toward others in the community who also need your compassion during this holiday season."

END


Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
CNS · 3211 Fourth St NE · Washington DC 20017 · 202.541.3250