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Born into earthly life:
Born into Eternal Life
in your love, O Lord,
For you have gazed
on your servant
And you reached out
and took me by the hand.
See Mirella's Story
The saints above are the ones we love they live in bliss and glory, now the saints below are the ones we know so let me touch you with Mirella's story:
Gathered in the dining room, with family and friends, we turned the pages of the many family photo albums. We were trying to stand back and see the fullness of Mirella's life and not just the focus of the past several days. With each page the joy of her life was vibrant and comforting.
Born in Cairo Egypt December 8th, 1947, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Mirella was the first daughter of the proud parents Renato and Gismonda Leone. I learned from them that she was a delightful child with an enthusiastic zest for life and it mysteries. In 1953 her family migrated to Sydney Australia. Gismonda's stories of Mirella's ship board experiences and activities remind me so much of Andrea at that age. During the next dozen years she blossomed to the beautiful young lady I was to meet in December of 1966. During these years Mirella studied diligently enjoyed life and loved and honored her parents and grandmother. Jesus and Mary always had a special part in her life, her first communion, her confirmation and the time she was honored to crown Our Lady of Mount Carmel that year. Graduating from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School in 1964 she won a full scholarship to University. How proud her parents were. Like so many parents before, her mother was extremely uncomfortable about releasing her precious daughter into that University den of iniquity. Confident of Mirella's fortitude Gismonda entrusted her social and spiritual welfare to the members of the Newman Society (a Catholic society active in campus ministry). Studying in Psychology subjected many to the call of secular humanism but Mirella remained strong in her faith and regularly attended Mass in the Students Union Building. She was always willing to comfort those in distress, either because of study, exam or boy friend pressures. She loved fun, theme parks, picnics, walks and Oh yes hoarse riding. Within the first year she was already the secretary for the Newman Society, she loved to get involved. Unwanted attention was firmly put in its place.
This time at university was a time not just for studying her chosen courses but also a time for seeking and searching her Faith in Jesus. As well as her regular attendance at the Chapliancy where up to 100 students would gather each day at lunch, Mirella attended and helped organize, the many Newman camps, conferences and social events.
It was at one of these Newman dances that I met Mirella for the first time. Outgoing, welcoming, vivacious her face beaming with that most captivating smile that we have all come to know and love. A face that could launch a thousand ships. I was stunned. Well you guessed it, I made some stupid remark about Engineering versus Arts, and got royally put in my place with "well if that's the way you feel" and she was gone. Years later I related the story to her and she never even remembered the incident, her heart was simple pure and forgiving. Through our involvement with the Newman society, we interacted a lot and soon developed a good and solid friendship, none of that icky romantic stuff. We found we had a lot in common, she was tidy and I was messy. She was great at and spelling, I was terrible. She could read in public, I was terrified at the thought. She was at total ease in social situations, I was clumsy (I already covered that). But we could both dance and we both loved small group discussions on absolutely any topic. By my final year at University and with encouragement from Mirella and Fr John King, I could now read in public, my social graces had improved and I was learning to be more responsible. In December 8th 1969 we were engaged. Everything was right we both had finished University, we both had jobs and we were able to purchased our first house in July 1970. At this point she surrendered her independence and we were married on August 8th, 1970 'and the two became as one'. The candle burning on the altar is our unity candle lit last on our last, our 29th wedding anniversary.
On August 10th, the following year we had our first baby, Jeremy. Then over the following 17 years we had Peter, Mark, Luke, Byron, Tina and finally Andrea. These were wonderful and joyous times for both of us. We were always involved as a couple, we taught natural family planning, we were involved with marriage encounter, ran evenings for the engaged, St Martin's Couples discussion group, cursillo and lectors.
In 1979 the first of the challenges occurred when she lost her father. In 1983 at 18 months Byron was diagnosed with a congenital kidney disorder, Mirella was devastated. Then in 1991 we were told Mirella had Multiple Sclerosis. We were just numb. After further investigation we discovered that in fact it was the same disease that her father had had, Cerebellar Ataxia.
Without further ado we decided to do our world tour right then and we spent three wonderful months touring France (including Lourdes where Mirella bathed in the waters), Italy (including the catacombs) and parts of the US. Three years later we went on the St Martin Parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This was a wonderfully inspiring trip for both of us. Mirella was a constant focus of a caring community. I can still see Jim Carico carrying Mirella up the last 80 steps to the top of Masada. I remember that at Cana Mirella and I renewed our wedding vows in celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary
Among many of the special gifts that are so much a part of Mirella one of the most precious was her gift of one of her kidneys to our son Byron. This kidney survives her to-day and looks like doing so for a long time to come.
Through out all this as the condition continued to take her freedoms, driving, walking, speaking, caring for herself, feeding herself and finally any voluntary movement or swallowing ability, she never complained but rather grieved the latest loss and accepted it. Even still she remained devoted to Jesus and the Sacraments, and eagerly received the Eucharist every day as she prepared to take her final step to Jesus.
The first reading (the perfect wife), read so beautifully by Larry, is to me a perfect summary of who Mirella was on this earth.
Bill please take over here:
Last Thursday at 3:40 pm Mirella took two small breaths and gave up her spirit pause and was taken up in the arms of Jesus where there is no more pain or suffering only comfort and peace in his presence.
Paul and his children will continue to miss her greatly but they live in the hope of the resurrection. Paul has asked her for some special intercessions when she meets Jesus.
She is now at peace with The Lord.