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Emmanuel Community foundress laid to rest

Fr Thomas Willemsen CSSp incenses the coffin during the final rites for Violet D’Ornellas. Photo: Raymond Syms

Violet D’Ornellas was remembered for her “undaunted attitude” in her mission to serve God. The foundress of the Emmanuel Community, 87 years, died March 29 after a period of ill health.

Her April 5 funeral Mass took place at the Church of the Nativity, Crystal Stream, Diego Martin. Archbishop Jason Gordon presided with other clergy concelebrating.

If D’Ornellas was told time was too short for a project her response was “God is in control of time”; if it was too costly her response was “God will provide” and when told something was impossible her answer was, “nothing was impossible for God” said John Mackay, Emmanuel Community member as he delivered a eulogy. He said, “No matter what obstacle was placed on any project she would rely totally on God to overcome, of course He did.”

Under D’Ornellas, a home for abused and battered children was established, and through her guidance and leadership the Emmanuel Community was on the forefront locally and globally to speak out and oppose any laws which seek to degrade life, the family and unborn.

The willingness to go forth in faith was also recalled by her daughter Bonnie Knox. She said, “I can remember you would say, ‘Okay Bonnie, we are going to do this!’. My heart would shrink because of my practical nature, I would wonder ‘but how?’. But you would accomplish it!”

Knox described her mother as “a real activist, and prayer warrior especially in the pro-life ministry” who touched hearts and changed lives. The seeds of her faith were scattered across the miles.

Although it was heartbreaking to see the sharp mind fade, body wither and voice diminish, Knox said her mother would “still give the look that said everything, and you would know she was there.” She acknowledged the family members and others who were present in the latter years and apologised if she forgot anyone.

Knox said D’Ornellas’ love and dedication to the Emmanuel Community was “total and complete. Even to the point of refusing to allow her children to move her from Trinidad in her old age, because she just couldn’t leave you”. Knox also read tributes from a few of D’Ornellas’ grandchildren.

Archbishop Gordon said her stance and witness for life was “one of the great legacies she has left”. Alluding to D’Ornellas’ suffering from poor health, he said, “It is as if in the last stages of living that the last giving up and letting go is the human dignity you preserved so deeply and held so closely to yourself; it is in that last letting go that the patient and the Passion become so intertwined,” he said.

She was becoming more configured to Christ. “The whole orientation of her life, her desire, will, her commitment was to God and God alone,” the Archbishop said.

D’Ornellas leaves to mourn her children: Bonnie, Leiza Dascent, Bernadette D’Ornellas; Bobby D’Ornellas, Brendalynn Metz, Gerard D’Ornellas, live abroad and could not attend. Violet D’Ornellas was interred at the Lapeyrouse Cemetery. –LPG