Meet our little Saint in Heaven

Maximilian John Pio was born Aug. 19, 2021. He is named after St. Maximilian Kolbe, St John the Baptist, and St Padre Pio. His confirmation name is Irenaeus. All these were great defenders of Christ and the Faith.

Maximilian was born premature at 34 weeks and from the beginning was not healthy. Maximilian was given the same cross of suffering as his deceased brothers, Xavier and Benjamin. They were all born with a genetic, peroxisomal disorder that does not allow cells to function, affecting all organs and systems, especially the nervous system. Life expectancy is less than one year.

Maximilian suffered every day from this disorder. A total of nine weeks of his life were spent in the hospital, with many tests, procedures and surgeries done. He was able to stay home for the last four weeks of his life under the very watchful care, love and hugs of his family. So many family and friends were able to visit and hold him. The nurse said he received more love in his short four months than most people get in their lifetime. He touched the lives of so many people. Maximilian passed away on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

How does this relate to St. Irenaeus Chapel?
On the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 2021, Maximilian’s father happened to be driving by the church and noticed the deteriorating conditions. He contacted city officials, found the owner, and they offered to sell it to him. Maximilian’s father prayed hard on this matter.

He saw the opportunity to rescue the building and restore it to its proper place in the adoration of Christ. He placed it in the hands of St Joseph and tried practicing patience. It wasn’t until the day Maximilian first came home that he was able to finally able to start acquiring the church.

God’s will is amazing to watch sometimes. As Maximilian’s condition and his journey of suffering began, a group of dedicated men came together to sign onto what seemed impossible six months ago in the spring. They all have the same goal: “Restore All Things in Christ.”

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
Maximilian’s innocent soul suffered. He merited more than we will ever understand.

Maximilian Gabbard, pray for us!

January 2021

The pregnancy was announced.  This dear child is the thirteenth for his mother to carry under her heart.

St. Joseph's Day

March 19, 2021

Maximilian’s father was driving by St. Irenaeus.  As a general contractor, he noticed its deteriorating condition and was concerned about the existing 2020 derecho damage. He contacted the owner. They offered to sell him the property. He prayed and practiced patience. 

August 19th, 2021

Maximilian John Pio was born at 34 weeks, 4 days and weighed 6 pounds, 10 ounces.  He was baptized by his father and taken directly to the neonatal intensive care unit. 

September 17, 2021

Maximilian was welcomed home and met his adoring siblings.   

September 20, 2021

Having a hint about his health condition, Maximilian’s father willingly offered up this suffering to restore all things in Christ. His parents said “yes” to the pursuit of St. Irenaeus.  

September 22, 2021

At home, Maximilian struggled. He was taken to the emergency room in Davenport and flown immediately to Iowa City. “He is a sick little boy,” the hospital said. Maximilian’s father announced to friends, “We have a saint on our hands.” 

At this point, the family began a Caring Bridge journal.

October 10, 2021

Maximilian received the Sacrament of Confirmation and took the name Irenaeus.  He also received the ceremonies of Baptism.  

November 10, 2021

Another long hospital stay involved surgeries and procedures to ease Maximilian’s suffering and allow his body to function.  He then returned home to live his short life under the careful watch and love of his family. Maximilian now experienced a period of contentedness as his father took the torch of suffering: COVID and isolation.  

November 24, 2021

St. Irenaeus Church is acquired by St. Irenaeus Chapel, a non-profit organization. Eight men gather shortly after and also commit to the restoration. 

December 9, 2021

The deed for the property officially entered the courthouse.  Maximilian immediately showed signs of deterioration.  He fevered, his heart raced and required oxygen. The family arranged a family photo.

December 11, 2021

The chapel doors were opened for tours.  The faithful prayed the Holy Rosary, the bell rung for the Angelus and a youth group cleaned the building. Meanwhile, back at home, Maximilian was suffering his last full day.

December 12, 2021

On Gaudete Sunday – the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe –  Maximilian is called to his Heavenly reward at 8:28 PM. 

“Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.”    

Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego, 1531

December 18, 2021

Mass of the Angels was offered for Maximilian at St. Irenaeus Chapel. 


Maximilian Gabbard, ora pro nobis.