Tags: Friends | Supporters | Gather | Memorial | Service

Friends, Supporters Gather at Memorial Service

Friday, 01 April 2005 12:00 AM

After a standing ovation and embraces from a number of the mourners, Schindler left the service to return to his family.

Fr. Terry Gensemer, director of CEC for Life, delivered a brief sermon during the memorial service. Much of his message focused on the perceived good that could potentially come from Terri's life and death.

"There is not a nation in this world where somebody, somewhere has not heard the story of Terri Schiavo, has not seen the love of her family, the love of church people, the love of Christians who have surrounded her," Gensemer said. "We will see differences. We will see people treated differently because Terri Schiavo, not only because she died, but also because she lived.

"For the past few weeks, the eyes of the world have been on Terri Schiavo and Pinellas Park and what's been going on here," Gensemer continued. "But, not only the eyes of the world have been gazing on what's going on, but the eyes of heaven have been watching. And heaven has now received Teri Schiavo."

Gensemer also discussed how the Schindlers are dealing with their loss.

"I spoke to both Bob and Bobby Schindler today," Gensemer said. "They both said the same thing to me. They said, 'Terri's free now. She's whole now.'"

The memorial began with a video presentation of the contemporary Christian song "I Can Only Imagine," by the group Mercy Me. In the song's lyrics, the vocalist wonders aloud about what will happen after his death:

"Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for you Jesus, or in awe of you be still? Will I stand in your presence, or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine."

Sr. Pastor Mike Thomas of the Praise Cathedral Renewal Center in Pinellas Park, Fla., which hosted the event, commented on the song.

"There're a lot of thing I can't imagine. I can't imagine what it would be like to go through this," Thomas said. "But, here's one thing I know and that is that our heavenly father knows exactly what it's like to give his child, his son.

"And, there's one other thing I know," Thomas concluded, "that, because he gave his son, we who die in Christ have life and we have it abundantly."

Another pastor, who was not identified, related the story of how a woman who called him for help dealing with her anger over Terri's imminent death Thursday morning had become a Christian as a result of their conversation.

"Unless a seed falls onto the ground and dies, it produces no fruit," he said, referring to Terri Schiavo as the "seed" that had "fallen."

"We have had someone accept Christ because of [Terri's] death," the pastor continued. "The bigger picture: somebody died so that somebody could live, Jesus died so that we could live."

Msgr. Thaddeus Malanowski, who is better known to Terri's family and friends as "Father Ted," served as Terri's priest for the final six years of her life. He recalled one occasion when Robert and Mary Schindler and he were at Terri's bedside, trying to sing "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" to mark the Feast of St. Patrick.

"We didn't know the words, we had no musical accompaniment, and we were flat," Malanowski recalled. "And she laughed. She really laughed.

"There was life in Terri. She laughed. She smiled. She cried," he continued. "And therefore, we loved her."

While the majority of the service remained positive and focused on Terri's life and the strength and grace exhibited by the Schindler family, Malanowski addressed the desire of Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband, to have her body cremated and her remains buried in his family's gravesite in Pennsylvania.

"They may have the body," Malanowski said, "but we have her soul!"

Malanowski returned to the podium just before the conclusion of the service

"We know that before Terri became Terri Schiavo, she was Terri Schindler," Malanowski said to applause and cheers from those in attendance. "Let us now give Terri back to her family by calling her Terri Schindler.

"Maybe, legally, on paper, she might be called Terri Schiavo, but she ceases now to belong to her former husband," he concluded. "So, rightfully, she is a Schindler, Terri Schindler."

As of the filing of this article for publication, neither Michael Schiavo nor his attorney had offered any response to the comments made at the memorial service. In accordance with previous instructions from Schiavo attorney, George Felos, Cybercast News Service did not attempt to contact him.

Copyright: CNSNews.com.

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After a standing ovation and embraces from a number of the mourners, Schindler left the service to return to his family. Fr. Terry Gensemer, director of CEC for Life, delivered a brief sermon during the memorial service. Much of his message focused on the perceived good...
Friends,,Supporters,Gather,Memorial,Service
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2005-00-01
Friday, 01 April 2005 12:00 AM
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