A highly emotional week of funerals ended Saturday as the final three victims of the Dec. 14 Connecticut shooting – 6-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene, who loved music; 7-year-old Josephine Gay, nicknamed "Boo;" and 6-year-old Emilie Parker, a budding artist – were laid to rest.
At Ana's "homegoing celebration" at The First Cathedral in Bloomfield, Conn., on Saturday, her pictures filled large screens, showing her as a newborn, as a baby in her car seat, eating ice cream, at the beach, playing in a sandbox, celebrating birthdays, and dressed like a princess, according to North Adams Transcript.
Since Ana, whose father Jimmy Greene is a jazz musician, loved music, the service included musical tributes, including a performance from the Hartford Symphony String Quartet.
Archbishop Leroy Bailey Jr. called her a "beautiful, adoring child." As 26 candles were lit to remember all the victims of the shooting, Bailey was quoted as saying, "We know they are alive, vibrant, and with the Lord."
"We thank you for the gift of Ana's life," the Rev. Paul Echtenkamp stated. "Ana truly was a gift, a gift from God, a gift from Heaven. There are no words in a tragedy like this. Resurrection triumphs over tragedy. Ana believed in Jesus. She is present with the Lord."
As Michele and Bob Gay laid their daughter Josephine to rest on Saturday morning at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown, Conn., they recalled the lessons she taught them.
Through Josephine, also known as Joey and Boo, they learned to always trust people. They recalled finding peanut butter covered spoons everywhere in their house, because of Josephine's affinity for the spread. Her parents pointed out she preferred the regular kind of peanut butter, not the organic one. Every mouthful needed a new spoon, the Transcript quoted Bob Gay as saying.
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At the 90-minute funeral service, Monsignor Robert Weiss recalled that Josephine liked Barbie, her iPad and the color purple. "Purple is the color of passion," he said. Despite Josephine's difficulties as a mute child, she had a passion for life.
At a ceremony in Ogden, Utah, where Emilie was born and her family lived before moving to Newtown, she was remembered as someone who loved to make people smile and never missed a chance to draw a picture or make a card, as family and friends lowered a small white coffin into the ground. She was laid to rest near her grandfather at Evergreen Memorial Park.
The burial followed a private funeral for family and close friends at a Mormon church, The Associated Press reported. The Parkers emerged from the solemn service carrying their two other daughters, Madeline and Samantha. The girls' coats were pink, their older sister's favorite color.
The shooting by a lone gunman, Adam Lanza, on Dec. 14, which killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, has revived calls for a gun control measure in the country. But some Christians say that law alone may not be enough to have a society where human life is valued.
J.D. Greear, the lead pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., wrote on his blog that while laws are good, necessary, and appointed by God for peace in a fallen world, "laws have an extremely limited ability to heal the spiritual dysfunction of the human heart."
"Ultimate healing, of course, comes from the Gospel. Jesus made an end to sin by suffering its penalty in our place, and by beholding him and receiving his grace, the power of sin is broken in us," Greear said, adding that not even divinely dictated laws can fix the real problems of our society. "The best laws can restrain evil, but they cannot remove it."
Our Constitution, he cautioned, recognizes that government's power should be limited. "We, the church, possess a ministry that the ministers of government can never provide. We preach Jesus – in whom is forgiveness of sins, healing for the soul, and the source of real peace on earth. And we try to disciple families to function like God intended."