The tragic death of an Adventist teenager brought an offer of aid from the Catholic Church to the Seventh-day Adventist community in Shannon, Ireland.
Amerley Amarteifio, 18, died from an asthma attack hours after completing her final school exams. Recognizing that many would wish to attend the funeral service, the local Catholic priest, in consultation with Bishop Walsh of Clare, offered the Adventist family the use of the Church of Mary Immaculate.
Adventist pastor Philip Rhodes officiated at the service on March 27 with colleagues Pastor Michael Logan and Dr. Richard Clark and spoke of his appreciation to the Catholic clergy for their aid in a time of great grief.
“This was a demonstration of the strong feeling of community that brought people of different cultural and religious divides together in shared grief,” said Rhodes. “We are deeply grateful for this extremely generous demonstration of Christian charity that has done a great deal of good for the community.”
The church which seats 750 was filled to overflowing, comments Rhodes. The local school children were given the day off to attend the service in which three Adventist pastors participated.
“It was my privilege to present Amerley’s life sketch from information provided by the family,” says Pastor Logan, minister of the Adventist church in Cork. “The church itself had been prepared specially for our service, and the six priests who attended just wore suits, not vestments. The service touched many people and the Catholic Church’s kindness brought many people together.”
In a report in the Limerick Echo, local priest Fr. Ryan is quoted as saying, “We knew they wouldn’t have somewhere big enough to hold all the people who wanted to mourn, so we offered the church.” Then he added, “It wouldn’t be that normal, but we felt-why not?”
Pastor Rhodes personally delivered a letter to the Bishop thanking him and the clergy for their kind actions. The Adventist community in Shannon is small, with under 20 attending church.
“On behalf of the family we express our appreciation for the great number of condolences received,” Rhodes concludes. “Many have spoken of the service, appreciating the message of hope presented.”