PHOTO BY ROBERT HOWARD
Joshua Fatzinger, a seminarian with the Legionaries of Christ, assists Bishop Martin Holley during the Baptism of Kolbe Fatzinger. The baby’s father, Rob Fatzinger, holds his son Eric Fatzinger, as the family’s mother, Cecilia (Sam) Fatzinger hold Kolbe during the Baptism. At right are the baby’s godparents and older siblings, Caleb and Elizabeth Fatzinger. Kolbe Fatzinger, the 12th child of Rob and Sam Fatzinger, was born on Sept. 15 and baptized in the historic chapel at Sacred Heart Parish in Bowie.
PHOTO BY ROBERT HOWARD Joshua Fatzinger, a seminarian with the Legionaries of Christ, assists Bishop Martin Holley during the Baptism of Kolbe Fatzinger. The baby’s father, Rob Fatzinger, holds his son Eric Fatzinger, as the family’s mother, Cecilia (Sam) Fatzinger hold Kolbe during the Baptism. At right are the baby’s godparents and older siblings, Caleb and Elizabeth Fatzinger. Kolbe Fatzinger, the 12th child of Rob and Sam Fatzinger, was born on Sept. 15 and baptized in the historic chapel at Sacred Heart Parish in Bowie.
Returning to the site where they wed just over 20 years ago, Rob and Cecilia "Sam" Fatzinger entered the historic chapel at Sacred Heart Parish in Bowie to celebrate the Baptism of their 12th child, Kolbe Peter Fatzinger on Oct. 3.

Washington Auxiliary Bishop Martin Holley baptized the baby with assistance from three seminarians - including Joshua Fatzinger, Kolbe's older brother. After the sacrament, the bishop gently lifted the 18-day-old infant and presented him to family members and friends gathered in the chapel. Bishop Holley then announced, "Kolbe Peter, you are now baptized and initiated into the Catholic Church."

Earlier the prelate told participants through the beautiful sacrament of marriage, Kolbe's parents became co-creators with God - and the new baby is a "product of that love," Bishop Holley added.

"Out of the sacrament of marriage is born all the other sacraments," Bishop Holley later said. "The graces from (his parents') marriage continues to be perpetuated in the life of this young boy - who will eventually make a decision of his own life," whether that choice be marriage, a vocation to the religious life or a faithful lay person.

As the eighth of 14 children, Bishop Holley seemed right at home in front of the Fatzinger family. A large family teaches you Gospel truths, Bishop Holley noted. Children learn about God's love through their parents - their first teachers. Later, children are taught how to love their neighbors by learning to love their siblings. "We often refer to the family as the 'domestic church,'" Bishop Holley told the Catholic Standard.

He pointed out the younger children in the family who were gathered around their older siblings and parents watching them intently. "All eyes are looking at their parents," Bishop Holley said. "The graces that come from marriages, are important for society, and so important for the continuation of the Church," Bishop Holley said. "Marriage gives life to all the other sacraments."

Family friend Peter Murphy called the Baptism "a beautiful witness to the faith." Murphy, who also serves as the director of the archdiocesan Office of Family Life, said the Fatzinger family witnesses to God's love and the joy of life in their everyday lives. "They are a large family, but are selfless and generous to others around them. They are the ones helping the community," he added. "That is what family is all about."

Seminarian Daniel Turski said he was happy to be asked to assist the bishop during the Baptism. "It was definitely a look into my future ministry," Turski said. "I love kids." The young student called the Fatzinger family "a witness of authentic happiness." Seminarian Andrew Gronotte also said "it was great to be able to participate in bringing a new member into the Church."

Joshua Fatzinger received special permission to return home for the Baptism. The oldest son in the family, Joshua is currently a seminarian for the Legionaries of Christ. "We went over Baptism in class" he said, but he never thought he would be invited to assist the bishop with his brother's Baptism. Joshua Fatzinger credited his large family with teaching him the skills needed to live in a religious community. "My mom helped a lot - she created a good environment, praying the Rosary, attending daily Mass."

His mother, Sam Fatzinger, who was still recovering from complications after her first C-section delivery, said planning the Baptism gave her something special to look forward to and watching Joshua help out was "icing on the cake."

All of her previous 11 children had been baptized at Sacred Heart in the same chapel where Archbishop John Carroll was elected in 1788 as the first Catholic bishop in the United States. Sam Fatzinger said she began thinking about the possibility of inviting a bishop for the new baby's Baptism several months before his birth. A friend from another diocese suggested the custom of a bishop celebrating the sacrament for the 12th member of a family. So although she had never heard of such a tradition, Sam spoke with her pastor, Msgr. Charles Parry, who helped arrange the event. Bishop Holley "was so gentle, so personable," Sam Fatzinger said.

The mother said her prayers for the newest member of the family are the same as all her children. "Just that he'll grow up loving the Church - loving his family, that he'll love his faith as much as his brothers and sisters do." Sam Fatzinger paused and added, "That's every parent's wish for their children - that they'll always keep the faith."

Kolbe Peter Fatzinger born Sept. 15 joined his excited siblings Alexandria, 19; Joshua, 18; Caleb, 16; Elizabeth, 15; Barbara, 13; Joseph, 11; Robert, 9; Dominic, 7; Mary, 6; Cecilia, 3; and Eric, 2. His older siblings, Caleb and Elizabeth were chosen as to be his godparents.

"My heart was bursting," Sam Fatzinger said, "my favorite thing was having them all together."