They came from all parts of the country to bid farewell to a lawyer, a friend, politician, women’s rights activist, confidant, social worker, wife, mother.
But it was the provocative homily of Catholic Priest, Fr. Branker John, the main celebrant at the funeral mass, which provided food for thought.
Fr. Branker John hailed the late Noreen John as “a woman with a great big heart, who loved people and she served well.”
John was the former Director of the Legal Aid Clinic in Dominica. She was a lawyer in private practice.
Fr. Branker, who is the parish priest of St. Patrick’s church in Grand Bay, the birth place of Noreen John, was the chief celebrant at the funeral. He was joined by Monsignors Eustace Thomas and William Jno Lewis and Fr. Mama and Bishop Gabriel Malzaire.
“Much will be said for many years to come. She (Noreen) will be missed by many in Grand Bay her community and Dominica. She was like yeast in the dough. She was present and making a significant difference, with no drama and fanfare, for the development of others,” he said.
He continued, “A woman with a great big heart, she loved and she served……She loved because she believes this is what we are created to do. She was committed to family and duty to serve and serve well with class.”
He called on the faithful to reform their community and self before speaking about reform in any way. “The way things work, I must first reform myself. Before we can talk about reform or enhancing or change anything, we have to first look at ourselves and the tendency to resist growth in ourselves. Self-reform comes first…that’s the word of God. Take the speck from your eyes first before your look at others. To reform my community I must first reform myself,” the priest stated.
He continued, “But as we prepare to live time in the passage of seconds and minutes, hours and days, we are reminded to love one another and forgive each other. Noreen was passionate about family and friends. I am sure that there were times family and friends offended her but she learnt to love and forgive.”
Forgiveness, he said, is “a process, sometimes a very long process….but we are commanded to desire to forgive those who hurt us. If we do not forgive those who offend us, Jesus tells us then how do we expect our Heavenly Father to forgive us.”
“We are in transit,” Fr. John reminded the congregation, “We are about to leave and go to the next world to be judged based on how we loved.”
He added, “Our sister Noreen gave us an example of duty and ethical service; she was a generous and big-hearted lady. Our sister was supposed to be on the ballot for the upcoming elections but she will not be. We do not know the moment and time, Jesus Christ is the only one who knows it. So, while we are in time, we ought to move with haste for the reform of ourselves,” the priest said.
Among those present at the funeral mass were former president of Dominica Eluid Williams and his wife, opposition leader Lennox Linton and his wife, Deputy Speaker of the Dominica House of Assembly and DLP candidate for the Grand Bay constituency Edward Registe, High Court Judges Bernie Stephenson and Victoria Charles-Clarke, members of the legal fraternity in Dominica, General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) Thomas Letang, former Director of the Small Projects Assistance Team (SPAT) Joey Peltier, among others.
After the funeral her body was taken to her home village of Grand Bay where it was laid to rest.