By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

STRAFFORD – Maria Teresa Giblin of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish is so devoted to the Blessed Mother that she and her three daughters spend their summer weekday mornings praying the rosary after Assumption’s 8 a.m. Mass. And when Stephen Giblin’s work schedule allows, he joins his wife and children: Emma, 16; Emanuela, 12 and Anna Maria, 10.

“I just pray that we become a holy family like Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” Giblin said. “The rosary keeps us united. With the rosary, we shall prevail.”

Giblin is also fond of the Miraculous Medal devotion to Mary. Two years ago, when a friend’s son was deployed to Iraq for six months, Giblin sent his troop 45 Miraculous Medals. She told them to keep the medals close to their hearts. All returned home unscathed. “I know our Lady protected them,” Giblin said.

On occasion, Giblin also distributes Miraculous Medals to those she and her daughters encounter on the nearly five-mile trail they walk after Mass with their yellow lab, Bella Rosa.

Since childhood, Our Lady of the Assumption has had special significance to Giblin. A native of Italy, Giblin, born Papari, was baptized in Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Guagnano, Lecce, Italy.

The fourth of five children of the late Virgilio and Emma Agnese Papari, Giblin was 3 years old when her family immigrated to Brooklyn, N.Y.

“We were very poor at that time,” Giblin said of her early years. Neither of her parents spoke English. Her father worked at a candy shop while her mother worked inside the home, tending to the children.

“My mom would bring us to daily Mass on summer vacation, like I’m doing with my girls,” Giblin said. “We had nothing, but mom would make us understand that faith was all that matters in life. That’s what I’m trying to instill in my children.”

Indeed, the Giblins have weathered their own hardships this past year: there were job struggles for Stephen after the company he worked for closed – he is an electricity trader – and their oldest daughter was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Giblin is a certified dietician and stay-at-home mother.

Giblin became a U.S. citizen at age 9. The Paparis returned to Italy in 1978 and then, at age 24, Giblin and her twin sister, Antonella Anna, returned to the United States and settled in Richmond, Va.

Stephen and Maria met through church friends in Richmond. At first, Maria dismissed the blond-haired, blue-eyed Stephen. “I wanted a real deep Italian-looking man,” she said with a laugh. But when she ran into Stephen a year later at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond, she agreed to give him her phone number. They married 10 months later, on April 27, 1991, at her childhood parish in Italy.

At Assumption, Giblin and her husband are extraordinary ministers of holy Communion and members of the Sodality and pre-Jordan team. In addition, Stephen is a cantor and Emma is a lector.

This week, Giblin and her family have been busy celebrating their parish’s centennial – the Italian personal parish was founded in 1908 – and preparing for the Feast of the Assumption on Aug. 15.

She has high praise for Assumption’s priests: Msgr. Joseph T. Marino, the pastor and, in residence, Msgr. James T. McDonough and Father Daniel J. Hoy. “They’re three wonderful priests devoted to Our Lady,” Giblin said. “I think this is the best parish in all the U.S.A.”

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or