DOVER – All the elements required for a baptism were in place at Holy Cross Church on April 4, the Wednesday before Easter. There was the adorable baby, Payton Amelia Garnsey, in her white dress; two beaming parents and big sister; and godparents and other family.
Also in the church, seated next to the baptismal font, were 16 pre-kindergarten students, classmates of Reagan Garnsey, whose sister was the guest of honor. They were there because Reagan’s parents, Angela and Brian, wanted the class and its teacher, Patricia Wegemer, to share in their special day.
There were a few reasons why the Garnseys asked the youngsters to attend. One, Payton was born on the first day of school back in September, and the class has been watching her grow over the last seven months. Two, the pre-k class had learned about the sacraments this year in school, and the couple felt this was a great opportunity for them to see their faith in action.
“They’re too young to remember when they went through this, so to see it again at such an early age is going to be nice for them,” said Brian Garnsey, a commercial pilot.
Wegemer was thankful that the family wanted Reagan’s friends in attendance.
“I’ve been here for 22 years. That’s the first time I’ve been able to bring them to a baptism,” she said.
Baptisms are not normally performed during Holy Week, but Holy Cross pastor Msgr. Dan McGlynn gave the family permission to hold it on Wednesday. The couple waited seven months because Angela Garnsey’s brother, Stephen Pomella, is a captain with the Army Green Berets who is stationed in Washington state and recently returned from the Philippines. He is also Reagan’s godfather. Pomella’s girlfriend, Caylin Davis, is the godmother.
“Very early on I explained that I was dealing with my brother’s military schedule. We just figured we’d wait as long as we could until he got home,” said Angela Garnsey, a Delaware state trooper.
Before starting the service, Msgr. McGlynn explained what would happen to the family and the pre-k class. He told the children that making the sign of the cross on Payton’s head “is a welcoming sign in the Christian community.” Later in the ceremony, the godfather would light the baptismal candle, which “represents how the child has been enlightened by Christ.” By anointing the baby’s ears and mouth with chrism, she would be able to hear and spread the word of God. Reagan was able to participate in her sister’s baptism, holding the chrism for the priest.
During the baptism, Msgr. McGlynn leaned over and talked directly to Payton. “You start a great journey today,” he said. “You won’t be alone on that journey.”
Payton was all smiles before the service began and was quiet until Msgr. McGlynn poured the water on her head. After a few minutes, the crying stopped and she was back to her happy self.
“That wasn’t hard,” one of the children said.
“Payton, are we still friends?” asked Msgr. McGlynn.