The late Helena McElhennon
Mourners at the funeral for Co Derry mum-of-four Helena McElhennon heard how she touched hearts by her 'personality, generosity and love'.
Father Dermot McGirr told hundreds of people who packed out Desertmartin's St Patrick's Church yesterday how the 42 year-old was not only compassionate, but "the life-and-soul" of the party.
"Helena had time for people," the priest said in his touching homily. "She was keen to help those in need and to get people involved.
"Making time for others, she had a listening ear and often offered advice in compassionate ways.
"She liked being at the heart of things, and she was the life and soul of the party."
Helena, from the Crocknamohil Road close to Draperstown, went missing on November 24.
She was last seen near the Foyle Bridge in Derry city.
Her remains were discovered last Tuesday evening by search teams on the River Foyle, who had been scouring the area every day since her disappearance.
Her family, including husband Declan and four children - Kayla, Ben, Kaeden andNiah-Rose - all aged from one to 10 years-old, had held out hope she would return home.
On Monday morning they gathered with hundreds of others in a final farewell to the much loved daughter, sister, mum and wife.
Special recognition was given during the funeral mass from the McElhennon and McGlone families for the tireless, daily efforts by family, friends and strangers in looking for Helena.
Passing on their thanks, Fr McGirr said: "Over these past number of weeks Helena has been on the minds and in the prayers of countless people across our diverse, good-hearted and generous community.
"Helena’s people also deeply appreciate the supportive messages from people conveyed across different platforms expressing their compassion and kindest thoughts.
"People were keen to help and pray for Helena. They have been opening their hearts and sharing their moments with a neighbour and people they’re feeling for.
“They and the generosity of local businesses donating food for volunteers and family members also helped to draw Helena gently home.
"As sincere people and as a community of faith gathered here at St Patrick’s, we share our sympathy with everyone among Helena’s family and friends grieving her passing today.
"We also reach out to God to help and console us in our sorrow, and we pray to him for the happy repose of Helena’s soul in the life to come, because we would like her to have that peace very much.”
Yesterday, messages of support continued to be posted on a Facebook page set up in the search for Helena.
As well as offers of thoughts and prayers, messages lent support for her family and expressed relief that their agonising search had finally come to an end.
Last week after news that Helena's body had been foud, her family thanked those who had left comforting messages.
“Helena was a beautiful person and earth angel. She’s now an angel in heaven reunited with our Daddy, goddaughter and other family members,” a Facebook post read.
Helena is survived by her husband Declan and four children, her mother Mary and her siblings Rosaleen, Teresa, Michael and Sean.
For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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