Hannah Katherine Collins was extraordinary and unique, engaged and fun, and a singer with a strong fashion sense.
The 11-year-old Beaufort girl was a gift to those who knew her, her pastor said at her funeral Mass on Friday morning. He called her death last week “almost beyond comprehension.”
“We have questions, we have sorrow, we have pain,” said Rev. Paul MacNeil, of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Beaufort, during the homily. “Perhaps we have anger as well.”
“But we also have faith.”
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Hannah died Aug. 5 after a brain infection resulting from an amoeba she contracted swimming in the Edisto River in July. Her death was mourned Friday in the church where she made her First Communion.
An enlarged photo of Hannah in a white dress rested on a stand outside the sanctuary. Her family entered with her casket to the hymn “Amazing Grace.”
“We have been lifted up by her enthusiasm and cheered by her smile,” MacNeil said.
There are no easy answers this morning, no satisfying words.
The Rev. Paul MacNeil, St. Peter’s Catholic Church
Clergy sought to comfort family and friends with the knowledge Hannah will live eternally in heaven.
“He will destroy death forever,” a reading from Isaiah said.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes,” a verse from Revelation promised.
MacNeil acknowledged questions those grieving might have as to how a child could die as a result of a fun, summertime activity.
Few funeral services the church has held have been under such sad circumstances, MacNeil noted.
“There are no easy answers this morning, no satisfying words,” he said.
A reading from the New Testament book of Mark told of how Jesus welcomed young children after his followers had tried to turn them away, “for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” the verse reads.
“Hannah was one of Jesus’ friends,” MacNeil said. “... And friends can’t be kept apart for long.”