Nearly 2,000 people joined together Thursday to say goodbye to 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green.
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of the Diocese of Tucson gave the homily.
“She wanted to make a difference with her life, to make her mark,” he said of Christina-Taylor. “She has done so in such a powerful way that even she could not have imagined.”
He ended the service by telling those gathered that in death, Christina-Taylor saved lives. The little girl’s last act was to donate her organs to others.
Christina-Taylor’s father, John Green, was the only speaker. Before the tearful crowd, he spoke directly to his departed daughter: “Christina-Taylor Green,” he began, “I can’t tell you how much we all miss you.”
“I think you have affected the whole country,” he said to her.
He shared several memories, especially of her playing in the family’s backyard, with Christina-Taylor giving out directions to her brother and friends. He remembered how competitive she was, especially on the baseball field, and how she loved to go snorkeling with her brother.
John Green told the crowd that despite the tragedy that has devastated his family, he is proud to be part of the Tucson community and has so many people to thank. The community will heal from the shooting tragedy, he said, because that was what Christina-Taylor would have wanted.
Pink and white flowers, along with pink bows, adorned the church. The University of Arizona choir sang “Ave Maria.” Family friend Katy Martin sang Billy Joel’s “Lullaby.” “Goodnight, my Angel, time to close your eyes,” the song began.
Tears flowed freely during the song because it followed Green’s remarks, including his comment that one thing he’ll miss most is returning from road trips — he is a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers — to find his wife and daughter all dressed up and dancing to music together.
About a quarter of the people at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church were children, including Christina-Taylor’s fellow students at Mesa Verde Elementary, players from her Canyon del Oro “Pirates” Little League team and church members from St. Odilia Catholic Church.
Mourners passed under a 9/11 flag as they walked into the church. Christina-Taylor was born on Sept. 11, 2001.
Green was the first of six victims killed Saturday in the shooting spree to have a funeral service.
At the start of the service, mourners were greeted by thousands of people on motorcyles and on foot who lined the streets around St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church on North Shannon Road, near Magee.
Many of those who showed up wore white and stood quietly on either side of Shannon Road. The line of people stretched for more than one-quarter of a mile.
Among the group were 18 "angels" with giant wings standing side-by-side less than a block from the church.
One of the angels, Ralph Alter, said: "I couldn't stand by and do nothing with the events of the last week."
Sitting on his Harley motorcycle, Brian Thompson said: "I felt it was important for the community to come together."
The 45-pound 9/11 Flag was hoisted at the church. The New York Says Thank You Foundation flew the flag to Tucson Wednesday, less than 10 years after she was born on Sept. 11, 2001.
After the funeral began, the 18 angels — who had stood in the sun for an hour and a half — left.
The group turned and walked north, with wings outstretched, along a dirt path next to the road. They were headed to a nearby home where a resident told them they could store their wings until tomorrow’s funeral at the same church for another shooting victim, U.S. District Judge John M. Roll.
Burial arrangements for Christina-Taylor have not been made public.