Saying Good-Bye

Catholic victims of Tucson shooting laid to rest.

John Green hugs Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., during the funeral Mass for his daughter, Christina Taylor Green, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tucson Jan. 13. Christina was killed in the Jan. 8 shootings that left six dead and 14 others wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
John Green hugs Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., during the funeral Mass for his daughter, Christina Taylor Green, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tucson Jan. 13. Christina was killed in the Jan. 8 shootings that left six dead and 14 others wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. (photo: CNS photo/Rick Wilking, pool via Reuters)

This has been updated.

TUCSON, Ariz. (CNS) — Christina Taylor Green was memorialized for her love of sports, her excitement about her many interests, from politics to dance, and for affecting the whole country, as her father put it at her Jan. 13 funeral.

U.S. District Judge John Roll was recalled a day later for his judicial evenhandedness, for his faithful involvement as a lector and daily Massgoer, a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus and as a strong supporter of a wide range of church and civic activities.

The two were among six people murdered in a shooting rampage in Tucson Jan. 8, both remembered at funeral Masses at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, SEAS as it’s known, on the city’s north side. Their own parish churches, St. Odilia and St. Thomas the Apostle, respectively, were too small to host the congregations, which still filled to overflowing the sanctuary at the much larger church.

St. Odilia did host a Mass of commemoration and healing celebrated by Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas Jan. 11. On Jan. 15, the ABC News program “This Week With Christiane Amanpour” taped the show airing Jan. 16 at St. Odilia. It was done in a town hall-style format at the church, where Amanpour observed, “You could hear the gunshots from here.”

Funerals were held in the following days for the other four people killed at a shopping mall during a meet-your-congresswoman event hosted by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was among 13 people wounded. Bystanders, some of whom were injured themselves, tackled the gunman. Jared Lee Loughner, 22, was being held in federal custody in Phoenix, charged with federal crimes related to the deaths of Roll, chief judge of the U.S. District Court, Giffords staff member Gabe Zimmerman and the shooting of Giffords and two other congressional employees. State charges were expected to follow related to the deaths of Dorwan Stoddard, Phyllis Schneck and Dorothy Morris and the shootings of 10 other people.

Before the funerals at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, thousands of people lined the streets. Most just stood silently. Some carried single flowers. Others wore angel outfits, with large wings outspread, originally designed to block the view of protesters who planned to be there. Two hundred motorcyclists and hundreds more who walked, took shuttle buses and parked blocks away joined them. The protesters backed down after radio stations in other cities agreed to give them air time.

In his homily at Christina’s funeral, Bishop Kicanas compared the girl’s lasting impact on the world to that of another child who was doing things unexpected at his age: Jesus at 12 going to teach at the Temple.

While she was “just 9, she has found her dwelling place in God’s mansion,” the bishop said.

He said even at her young age, Christina “had a time to laugh and a time to dance ... a time to embrace and a time to sow, a time to love and a time to build. She had a time to outshine the boys in baseball.”

Even with her death, the bishop said, Christina was able to save lives, as her parents donated her organs to others.

Local news reports said about a quarter of the congregation was made up of children, from the children’s choir at St. Odilia’s where Christina was a member, from her school, neighborhood and various activities she had.

Her simple, small casket was made by request by Trappist Caskets of New Melleray Abbey in Iowa. Each family member was given a cross made from the same red oak used for the casket.

Bishop Kicanas also participated in the funeral for Roll, whom the bishop considered a friend.

Father John Lyons, a childhood friend of Roll’s who attended Sts. Peter and Paul Elementary School, Salpointe Catholic High School and the University of Arizona law school with him, in his homily talked about their friendship, some attendees told reporters.

Friends and family were joined for the funeral by colleagues from the court and political leaders, including Arizona’s U.S. senators, John McCain and Jon Kyl, former Vice President Dan Quayle and U.S. Reps. Raul Grijalva and Jeff Flake and former Rep. John Shadegg. Quayle brought with him a personal note to the Roll family from former President George H.W. Bush, who had appointed Roll to the federal bench.

Also attending was Giffords’ district director, newly released from the hospital after being injured at the shopping center.

Buses delivered judges and court personnel to Roll’s funeral, where an honor guard of Knights of Columbus was among those celebrating the judge’s life and contributions. His brother-in-law, Michael O’Connor, told the congregation that as the family gathered outdoors at Roll’s home after the shooting, “an iridescent blob of green feathers fell from the sky,” as the Arizona Daily Star newspaper reported it.

It was a hummingbird. The family concluded it was cold, so they wrapped it in a towel and held it until it revived and flew to the spot in the yard where the children were gathered. The Star reported O’Connor as saying one of the grandchildren interpreted the unusual event as a sign that “Papa is in heaven.”

Bishop Kicanas told Catholic News Service in a phone interview before the funeral that Roll “was a strong man of faith” who he got to know at various diocesan events such as Red Masses and events of the Thomas More Society.

In his weekly “Monday Memo” posting on the diocesan Web page, the bishop reflected on listening to Roll’s grandchildren, especially, among those who shared “moving, hilarious and inspirational stories that gave us a fuller picture of this man who spent more than 40 years serving the cause of justice.”