The Rev. Denny Hayes celebrated the baby's funeral Mass assisted by St. Joseph's pastor, the Rev. Charlie Major. The church chorus, conducted by keyboardist and music minister Eileen Brody, filled the sacristy with the sound of "Amazing Grace" and other hymns.
After reading from the gospel of Mark in which Jesus says, "Let the little children come to me," Hayes lamented Isabella's death as "unfathomable." Fr. Hayes, who serves as chaplain for the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office, pointed out that first responders to such death scenes find them "an insult to their senses [and] an insult to their souls."
While Hayes delivered the homily, Fr. Major made brief introductory remarks.
"This tragedy took place within a mile of where I live," the pastor noted. "So I felt bad about this." He had to wonder, he said, "Where was our welcoming spirit to this mother and child?"
Major praised the LPD for arranging the infant's funeral.
"I'm so happy to be part of a village which is raising awareness of this child," Major said. The funeral service "enriches us as citizens," he said, and represents a "faith-and-village connective-ness."
After the Mass-as a brisk breeze offset the spring sunshine-some 100 mourners led by LPD officers walked across Sixth Street behind the hearse from the Ballweg & Lunsford Funeral Home to Liverpool Cemetery.
Hayes said a few prayers at the baby's grave while a closed picnic basket with a black bow sat on a small table near the white casket. As the service concluded, Annie Westrupp opened the basket and out flew three snow-white doves which ascended directly toward heaven.
Contributions can be made in Isabella Marie's name to Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital, 750 E. Adams St., Syracuse, NY 13210.