‘Last Christmas she was an angel at her nursery’s nativity’: Homily to Violet-Grace Youens

The coffin of Violet-Grace Youens, 4, is carried ahead of her funeral
The coffin of Violet-Grace Youens, 4, is carried ahead of her funeral

Family and friends gathered today to mourn for and celebrate the life of Violet-Grace Youens. Here we publish, in full, the homily delivered by Canon Thomas Neylon at the Church of St Julie in Ecceston today (Tuesday).

The little girl was killed in a suspected hit and run in Prescot Road, St Helens, on March 25.

The order of service at Violet-Grace's funeral

The order of service at Violet-Grace's funeral

“Violet-Grace Susan Youens; Rebecca and Glenn, Oliver. Her grandparents and her aunt Charlotte. Relations, friends, neighbours in Newlove Avenue. The staff and the families with children attending the nursery at Eccleston Mere Primary School, those whose lives have been touched in different ways by the events that happened on a sunny afternoon in March.

“The Catholic priest of St Teresa’s, Devon Street, welcomed Violet into the community of faith when she was presented for baptism by Rebecca and Glenn, followed by Oliver.

“Rebecca and Glenn celebrated their marriage in this church. Family and friends who were with them then are present today in circumstances that no one could have foreseen.

“When we entered this church a few minutes ago we paused at the door to sprinkle Holy Water as a remembrance of Violet’s baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ of Lord.

“During the season of Lent, we are invited to walk with Jesus as we prepare to celebrate his suffering and death on the Cross, his burial and his resurrection from the tomb.

“This year we have accompanied Violet and her family during Lent in their difficult journey as they face the loss of their beautiful daughter, sister to Oliver, a granddaughter and niece.

“She won the affection of those she came into contact with during her short life and has stirred the hearts of many more who have heard of her because of her death.

“Last Christmas Violet played the part of an angel in the nativity at Eccleston Mere Nursery.

“The nativity draws us into the mystery of God who became like each of us in His Son, Jesus Christ. Violet died on March 25, nine months before our celebration of Christmas.

“March 25 is the Feast of Annunciation when Mary is called by God through the angel Gabriel to be the mother of Jesus.

“From that moment onwards, like all parents, Mary’s life changed, as she becomes totally absorbed in the life of her son.

“This particular son will suffer and die at the hands of others. He dies entrusting his mother to the care of others.

“The rising Christ from death to new life, which we have celebrated in these last days, is a sign of hope for those who are grieving for Violet.

“Violet was also given the name Grace; we associate grace with beautiful gifts that God gives to us each and every day of our life.

“She was also given the name Susan, after Glenn’s mum who died some years ago.

“May Violet now rest in peace with the grandmother she never knew and all who have gone before us who have lived with hope in the resurrection from death.

“Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in Peace. Amen.”