Jastine Valdez’s 25th birthday marked at Dublin service
Murdered student to be buried in the Philippines next week after 40-day mourning period
Mourners gathered in Dublin on Thursday evening to remember Jastine Valdez ahead of what would have been her 25th birthday. Photograph: Sorcha Pollak
A small group of mourners gathered near Dublin’s city centre on Thursday evening to remember the “bright and beautiful” Jastine Valdez ahead of what would have been her 25th birthday.
A memorial mass was held in the recently refurbished Richmond Hospital in north Dublin to mark the 40th day after the death of the young Filipino student who was abducted and killed on May 19th in Enniskerry.
The event was held in conjunction with the Valdez family’s 40-day memorial mass which was celebrated in the family home in the Philippines to mark the time that has elapsed since her death.
According to Filipino tradition, Ms Valdez’s body has been lying in repose since its arrival in the country over a month ago allowing family and friends to visit her grandmother’s home before the funeral which will be held on July 2nd.
Daisy Mouhay, a friend of the Valdez parents, explained that the family had been eager to mark their daughter’s 25th birthday before holding the funeral.
“We Filipinos believe the soul is still in the body for 40 days and then at 40 days the it goes up to heaven,” she explained, adding that the mass was usually followed by a large dinner. “Jastine’s family will be having a big celebration today after the mass just because they’re finally letting go of her soul.”
Speaking to the small congregation gathered in Dublin on Thursday, Philippine Honorary Consul Mark Christopher Congdon spoke of the love and strength he had witnessed during the week he spent in the Philippines after accompanying Ms Valdez’s parents on the journey home with her body.
“The care of friends and neighbours remembering both happy and sad times was incredibly humbling to witness,” he said.
“Over the last four weeks Jastine has laid in state in the home of her grandmother and for 24 hours every day there have been people by her side praying. It was an honour for me to spend nearly a week with the family; a family of great faith, courage and love.”
In a letter addressed to the Valdez family which was read out during the service, Martina Harkin-Kelly, president of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association, said: “None of us will ever know how you feel as parents as grief is as unique as our fingerprints and it is a journey only you, Jastine’s parents, can navigate.”
She signed off the letter with the words of poet John O’Donohoe: “As your tears fall over that wounded place, may they wash away your hurt and free your heart.”
She added: “Bright and beautiful Jastine, may you rest in peace.”
Cres Abragan, a nurse and community leader with the Couples for Christ religious organisation who organised Thursday’s memorial, requested that mourners also show compassion for the family of Mark Hennessy who he said had been left behind as “innocent victims of a cruel fate”.
“Jastine will be greatly missed but never forgotten, always in the hearts of her mum and dad and the hearts of the Filipino and Irish nations bound together forever in grief in Jastine’s name,” he said.