‘Ana is with Jesus’
Shooting A portrait of one family affected by Friday’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., as they prepare for their daughter’s funeral | Emily Belz
NEWTOWN, Conn.—The funerals have begun. On Monday, the first two were held for 6-year-olds Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto. On Tuesday, two other 6-year-olds, Jessica Rekos and James Mattioli, were buried. On Wednesday, there were six more funerals. Sixteen more to go. St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, a fixture in the largely Catholic community, is holding eight funerals altogether for the victims of last Friday’s mass shooting.
A “homegoing service” for Ana Márquez-Greene, 6, is scheduled for Saturday. She was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School along with 19 other first-graders and six teachers and administrators. Her 9-year-old brother Isaiah was also enrolled at the school and was in the building during the shooting but was unharmed. A family statement said Isaiah “very much misses his sister.”
The family had moved from Winnipeg, Canada, about six months ago when Ana’s father, Jimmy Greene, took a teaching job at Western Connecticut State University. Greene, originally from Connecticut, is a renowned jazz saxophonist who taught music at the University of Manitoba the last three years. His wife and Ana’s mother, Nelba Márquez-Greene, is a therapist. Ana’s parents have been vocal about their Christian faith but have declined to talk to media. Instead they released a statement about their daughter after her death.
“In a musical family, her gift for melody, pitch and rhythm stood out remarkably,” the statement read. “And she never walked anywhere—her mode of transportation was dance. She danced from room to room and place to place. She danced to all the music she heard, whether in the air or in her head. Ana loved her God, loved to read the Bible, and loved to sing and dance as acts of worship. We ask that you pray for the legions of people who are left behind to cherish memories of her.”
Ana and Isaiah attended Linden Christian School in Winnipeg. The Baptist church that the Márquez-Greene family attended in Canada will be live streaming Ana’s funeral.
“Nelba and Jimmy share a very strong faith that is unwavering and inspiring,” read a statement from the University of Manitoba. “Along with the deep love from their family and friends, that is what we believe will help carry them during this time of unimaginable sorrow at the death of their beautiful and vibrant daughter.”
Jesse Rebar lives with his wife, Catty, and their daughter Norah one house over from the Márquez-Greene family, about a mile from the elementary school. Soon after the Márquez-Greenes moved in, Rebar, a member of Newtown Bible Church, went over to meet the family and invited them to his church. They were already in the process of looking for a place to worship, Rebar said, and Jimmy Greene told him he wanted to be somewhere that taught the Bible. He wasn’t sure where they ended up attending.
The night after the shooting, Rebar said he and his wife took food to the Márquez-Greenes and prayed with some of the extended family there. They gave the family their phone numbers and decided to give the family privacy to mourn for the time being.
“I’ve seen the cars and the police officers and the crying and the mourning,” Rebar said. He can’t imagine the level of grief the family is experiencing, but added, “If there is a parent who has the opportunity to be on public display for resting in the comfort of the Holy Spirit and God, I believe it could be him.”
A family friend posted a video on Facebook of Ana singing the hymn “Come Thou Almighty King” while her brother accompanied her on piano (see below). She sings “Amen,” and then they both wave at the camera.
“The Márquez-Greene family thank everyone for their prayer support and know Ana is with Jesus,” the family said.
Copyright © 2014 God’s World Publications