Belfast Telegraph

Rebecca Gibney sent love and light to the world, funeral for Belfast girl hears

Belfast girl gave many people hope, says priest

By Donna Deeney

A Belfast teenager who passed away on Boxing Day was yesterday described as "a light that shone bright to the very end".

Hundreds of mourners attended Requiem Mass for Rebecca Gibney (14), who suffered from cerebral palsy, epilepsy and blindness - conditions which kept her confined to her home in the Short Strand.

Rebecca's story touched the hearts of millions of people from across the world, and singer Adele came to visit the little girl at home before a 2016 concert, at which she also dedicated a song to the youngster.

Parish Priest Fr Peter Carlin recalled the encounter in his homily at St Matthew's Church yesterday, where he also remarked on the deep love between Rebecca and her mother Tracey and sister Joanna.

"Rebecca was one of those people who turned their dreams in the face of adversity into a bright reality by radiating a lot of joy and love into the world," he said.

"She was the light of her family, a light that shone brightly to the very end, a light that still shines brightly, a light similar to the Christ winter light that continues to radiate from the manger during these 12 days of Christmas."

Fr Carlin said that due to her illness, Rebecca never left her bed "but she visited the world".

He added: "This was strikingly illustrated by the fact that in February 2016 global singing sensation Adele (inset, with Rebecca) visited Rebecca in her home.

"Later that night Adele sang a song dedicated to Rebecca at the concert she had come to Belfast to perform. For a moment the veil was lifted over Rebecca's life and her light shone out.

"From Belfast with love, from Short Strand with love, a light that surely radiated from Belfast to Berlin, to Beirut and maybe even Baghdad, Rebecca's love touched so many hearts and gave people hope - especially those with children with special needs so that they no longer would feel isolated or cut off.

"The explanation for Rebecca's stellar life was love, a love she received from her beloved mother Tracey and sister Joanna and the love she gave back to them in large amounts.

"Now the struggle of life is over, leaving behind those who mourn Rebecca absence."

Fr Carlin described Rebecca as an angel who showed people a more humane way of relating to each other.

He added: "As Rebecca's grandmother said: 'Rebecca can walk, she can talk, she can sing, she can dance'."

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