Parishioners of St. Mary-St. Peter in Kingston, in the archdiocese’s northern reaches, turned out at the five parish Masses this past weekend to say thank you to Father Daniel Maichiki, a priest who has served the parish and the Kingston community well over the past six years. They shared memories amid the food at outdoor receptions.
Near the end of this month, the 67-year-old priest will be returning to his home Diocese of Kafanchan in Nigeria, first to a well-deserved vacation and then to a permanent position, most assuredly in a parish there. He also looks forward to being able to spend time with his brothers and sisters, and nieces and nephews.
While Father Maichiki said he is happy to be returning home, he holds a special place in his heart for the people of St. Mary-St. Peter and for Kingston itself, the onetime capital city of New York state, nestled in Ulster County, about an hour’s drive from Albany, the current capital. He enjoys a daily walk across the hilly terrain so unlike that of his native land. “It’s a lovely place, very peaceful,” he said on Sunday after the last Mass of the weekend was finished.
In addition to his parish duties, Father Maichiki has also served as a chaplain at Kingston Hospital, bringing the sacraments to the sick and dying as well as sharing his well-developed sense of humor, a trait that draws the priest close to everyone he encounters.
Count Father William Scafidi, the pastor of St. Mary-St. Peter since July 2018, among Father Maichiki’s biggest admirers. They quickly grew to become good friends and the priestly fraternity between them is an obvious bond as well as a joy to witness.
“For me, Father Bill has been the most pleasant surprise of my life,” said Father Maichiki, who said the pastor combines a gentle demeanor with a keen ability to get things done and address issues before they become problems.
Father Scafidi cited his fellow priest’s “great grasp of Scripture” as well as his disciplined and dedicated nature and steadfast commitment to the Eucharist. Father Maichiki’s friendly outlook also serves him well with parishioners as well as his fellow clergy.
“He’s a living witness to the priesthood,” said Father Scafidi, who is also 67 and was ordained in 1983, the same year as Father Maichiki.
Father Maichiki also happens to be a good cook, an attribute appreciated by Father Scafidi and Father Nelson Pichardo, the parish’s other parochial vicar.
Father Maichiki’s time at St. Mary-St. Peter predates his official tenure, beginning in 2014. He actually served several months at the parish in the years from 2011 to 2013.
The administration of St. Mary-St. Peter has not always been as smooth as under Father Scafidi. The administrative challenges of the past greatly affected parishioners.
During the tribulations, Father Maichiki’s stalwart example of priesthood has been especially important as a stabilizing influence for the parish. He said he has tried to encourage parishioners “to own their parish.”
Father Scafidi said, “He stayed the course as a true energizing force that the people appreciated. He was kind of like the gel that kept the parish together.
“He enjoys being a priest. I like that of him.”
Arlet Cartagena, the parish secretary at St. Mary-St. Peter, said she is sad to see Father Maichiki departing the Kingston parish, but happy that he’s returning home to serve in Nigeria.
“He’s ready to go home and be with his people,” she said.
In her three years at the parish, she’s watched and learned from the example of Father Maichiki, who serves as her spiritual director. His closeness with the Blessed Mother, exhibited in his daily walks with rosary in hand, and respect for the Eucharist have made a great impression on her.
“He’s a wonderful priest,” she said.