Six Days, Eight Funerals, Countless Tears | John Burger | Catholic World Report
St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown, Conn., concludes a grief-filled week burying 8 children
During the frenzied response to the devastating Newtown, Conn., school shooting last week, a policeman picked up one of the first-graders who had been shot. She was still alive, but not for long. The six-year-old lived long enough for the officer to say to her, “I love you.” And then the life slipped from her small body.
Deacon Don Naiman elicited gasps and cries from mourners as he related that story during the funeral Dec. 21 of Olivia Rose Engel.
“That officer was the voice of Jesus Christ” to the girl, Deacon Naiman said during his homily at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown. “And I am convinced that he gently passed Olivia to the hands of the Blessed Mother.”
He urged members of a large congregation that filled the church to likewise “be the hand of Christ…to these beautiful parents” and to others in the world.
It’s been an emotion-filled week in this bucolic New England town, and Olivia’s funeral was one of eight at the church — all for children who had not even made their first Communion. The final one was to take place Saturday, just days before Christmas.
Earlier in the day, at 9:30, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy presided over a moment of silence at town hall to mark one week since 20-year-old Adam Lanza allegedly shot and killed 20 first-graders and six educators at nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School. The bell at an Episcopal church slowly tolled 26 times as heavy rain and strong winds ushered in the first day of winter.
An hour later, hundreds of mourners filled St. Rose’s to reflect on the life of 6-year-old Grace Audrey McDonnell and to hear the pastor call for change.