IN a grim reversal of the joyful occasion when baby Michaela Davis was first carried into St Mochta’s Church to be christened, the 12-year-old girl’s remains were carried out by her family after her funeral yesterday.
The girl who so wanted to grow up now won’t have the chance to do so.
The funeral cortege made its way to St Mochta’s Church in Porterstown, close to her family home in the Village estate, a little after noon. The white coffin holding the body of the schoolgirl was then taken inside, partly carried by her tearful older brother, Brendan, with her father, also named Brendan, and her shaken mother, Deirdre, following in its wake.
A guard of honour was formed by children wearing a variety of school uniforms, and others wore the tracksuits of St Mochta’s FC.
School was one of the themes of the day, with chief celebrant, parish priest Fr John Daly, recalling how only last week Michaela was photographed in her new school uniform, that of Luttrellstown Community College.
“She was as proud as punch – she had grown up,” Fr Daly told mourners gathered both inside and outside the church. He said she was so happy to have started secondary school that she had not wanted to take the uniform off. Yesterday, the same picture was placed on her coffin by her brother. It was joined by other items, including a Bible, placed there by her aunt and uncle, and a model angel, placed by one of her cousins and to signify that she “was just a child”. Another aunt placed a bar of chocolate on the coffin, “the staple diet” of people her age, Fr Daly said.
The congregation, which included Minister for Finance and local TD Brian Lenihan and his constituency colleague, Joan Burton of Labour, heard Fr Daly recount how Michaela was “no teacher’s pet”.
But, he said, she was “very kind and generous”, “a very sensitive person,” and that she was “vibrant and full of life” with a penchant for bringing any stray animal she found back to the family home to nurse it back to health.
He said the front room of the family home features a large picture frame containing a collage of photos marking family events. As at the beginning of the service, he remarked how Michaela had first been carried to the baptismal font in St Mochta’s 12 years ago, and this photo was included in the collage.
Also included were photos of her first Communion, four years ago, and her Confirmation, just three months ago.
These events were new beginnings, Fr Daly said, and this tragic day was also a new beginning for Michaela.
He likened her to a sunflower, the theme of the day at her first Communion: “As all of us know, Michaela was eager to grow up – too eager at times. She pushed the boundaries in many ways, but she wanted to grow up so much and so quickly.”
There were dangers to that, he said – vulnerability to external forces, and a lack of strength.
Courage now needed to be shown by everyone, he said, not just in helping Michaela’s heartbroken family, but also to protect our young people, because they are now expected to grow up much faster than earlier generations. He said he had received an email from another mother whose daughter had been murdered some time previously, and she had also stressed the need for courage.
Outside it was a typical September day, a back-to-school day. To the strains of Heal the Heartache by Michaela’s favourite band, JLS, her coffin was taken back outside. As the cortege made its way on what Fr Daly said was “the last farewell”, children from Michaela’s old school, St Mochta’s, lined the road outside.
Sobbing was audible inside the church and all too apparent outside as her friends wept openly before, during and after the service.
The children linked arms as they wept, with some literally doubled over in grief.
Fr Daly said her parents had longed for her next visit to the church to have been a happy occasion, but instead it was both a “tragic day” and yet another new beginning for Michaela.
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