Westfield family mourned by many

Relates to:
Date: 2002-10-29

Union-News (Springfield, MA)
Author: KEN ROSS; STAFF Union-News (Springfield, Mass.)

WESTFIELD - One by one, men and women in dark clothes wheeled four wooden caskets into Holy Trinity Church.

And as the caskets were pushed in unison down the church's main aisle toward the altar yesterday, the sound of muffled crying pierced the otherwise silent church. The crying continued sporadically throughout the liturgy of Christian burial for Richard Kolenda, his wife and their two, 11-year-old children.

Kolenda fatally stabbed the other three members of his family Oct. 20 and then killed himself the same day.

Such crying is natural, the Most Rev. Thomas L. Dupre, bishop of the Springfield Diocese, told the 250 people gathered in the church during the funeral.

"These have been extremely difficult days for all," Dupre said. "It is my hope your prayers . . . may bring some measure of consolation and peace.

"As we mourn the untimely deaths," Dupre continued, "may God give us hope and grant them everlasting peace."

The hourlong service was filled with similar words of encouragement. But there was also no denying the bewilderment many people feel in the wake of this tragedy.

Gienia Kolenda's sister from Poland was scheduled to attend the funeral, which was delayed until yesterday to accommodate her travel plans. But an airplane delay Sunday in Amsterdam forced her sister to miss the service. She arrived later in the day, according to a representative from the Firtion-Adams Funeral Home in Westfield.

"This morning, we come together as church members to understand what is not understandable," said the Rev. Gerard J. Boulanger of Holy Trinity Church.

"We will all strive in the coming weeks ahead to understand why did this have to happen," Boulanger said. "We don't know, and we perhaps will never know."

Police last week said they did not know why Kolenda killed his family. Yesterday, Westfield Detective Lt. Michael McCabe said police still do not know the motive for the slayings.

Police have said Gienia Kolenda, 50, her daughter, Yana, and son, Anatoli, both 11, were stabbed at 3 Allen Ave. around 5 a.m. Oct. 20. Shortly afterward, Kolenda, 49, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Court Street.

The Kolendas' two adopted children were fifth-graders at Holy Trinity School in Westfield. Yesterday, many children filled the pews, along with older men in suits and women in dark dresses.

During the funeral, many of the prayers and hymns were spoken in Polish, since Kolenda and his wife were born and raised in Poland. The Rev. Kase Kazimierz of Holy Trinity Church also offered words of comfort in Polish.

The funeral ended when Dupre said, "In peace, let us take our brothers and sisters to their place of rest."

The four caskets were then pushed back down the center aisle toward the main door. The caskets were followed by a long trail of mourners, many of whom cried as they left the church. The burial followed at St. Mary's Cemetery in Westfield.

Ken Ross can be reached at kross@union-news.com

Caption:
SHARING GRIEF Friends and relatives of the Kolenda family comfort each other yesterday during the funeral for Richard Kolenda, his wife and their two, 11-year-old children. Kolenda fatally stabbed the other three members of his family Oct. 20 and then killed himself the same day.

(PHOTO 2 - Page B2) DAY OF MOURNING Pallbearers wheel one of four caskets into Holy Trinity Church in Westfield yesterday at the beginning of the Kolenda family funeral.

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