Forty-seven days after her death while on pilgrimage to our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, Mexico, Denise Mitchum was laid to rest.
On June 25, fellow pilgrims, wearing the blue scarves that identified us in Mexico, gathered at St Anthony’s Church, Point Fortin, to say farewell to our sister. Although the pilgrimage had ended on May 15, some of us would have felt that it was not truly over, as we had left one of ours behind.
Most of us did not get to know Denise during the few days she was with us in Mexico, but we certainly learnt a lot about her from her friends and family during the funeral service—her profound commitment to the Church, her community and her family, and particularly, her devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
It was therefore fitting that we should sing the hymn to Our Lady of Guadalupe, led by the vibrant St Anthony’s parish choir: a song that we had sung many times in May, arousing emotion then as at the funeral.
While we were emotional, we were not sad, as we were buoyed and comforted by the words, sprinkled with humour, of the officiating priest, Fr Robert Christo, who had also been the spiritual director on the pilgrimage.
The themes from those eight days were revisited in his sermon as Fr Christo reminded us of the importance of grace, love and living the authentic Christian life, the life that Denise had led. We also drew strength from Denise’s mother, Yvonne, a woman of astounding faith who believes that her daughter is indeed home in heaven.
As our sister was borne out of the church, the pilgrims formed a guard of honour in a final tribute to her. Denise has completed her pilgrimage here and has now gone to her eternal home. Farewell, Denise.— Sharon Delochan