Created: 12/15/2013 6:32 PM WHEC.com
By: Chalonda Roberts/Mike Loson
While millions of people prepare for one of the most joyous holidays of the year, it is a time of sadness as the community remembers a local hero who was gunned down in the line of duty.
It was Christmas Eve morning and it seemed like a routine fire call. It turned out to be anything but routine for Tomasz Kaczowka, one of the two West Webster Firefighters killed in the Christmas Eve ambush last year.
On Sunday a memorial dedication was held at Kaczowka's former church.
It was one of more ceremonies to come this month honoring the West Webster firefighters who died and those injured in the line of duty last Christmas Eve.
St. Stanislaus Church, where Kaczowka attended, held a dedication mass and is installing a stained glass window in memory of him.
Kaczowka's family said his church was a special place for the firefighter, and the window will serve as a special reminder of a man who dedicated his life to serving others.
“This is the church in which my brother was baptized, received first Holy Communion, was an alter server and grew in faith. St. Stanislaus was a special place for him and is a special place for our family,” said Darius Kaczowka, Tomasz's brother.
“It's been a tough year, especially for the families. The closure that that brings with the anniversary coming and going, we're looking to get back to some sense of normalcy,” said Tom Link, West Webster Fire Commissioner.
“The beautiful stain glass window will remind all that enter this church of Tomasz's life and service to others, not only today, but for years to come,” said Kaczowka.
“While there's a certain amount of profound sadness that's clear and evident here, there's also a supporting hope and joy that sustains people. I don't know how they do it, but they do it and I believe it's their faith,” said Bishop Matthew Clark, Rochester Catholic Diocese.
“It couldn't have been any tougher, regardless of the time of year. It couldn't have been any tougher on the families that suffered such a huge loss, but clearly it has changed this holiday season for all the fireman and that will never change. Every holiday season this will be in the forefront of our minds and everyone will be taking the time to say a prayer and think about the families that suffered such a huge loss,” said Link.
The Commissioner of the the West Webster Fire Department said there will be two more ceremonies held this month. He said it is a difficult time, as firefighters and the families face the one year anniversary of the tragedy. The Commissioner said they have become a tight-knit group and they all depend on each and lean on each other, as well as the clergy, for support during this difficult time.