There was no list of official dignitaries, no glowing tributes, no eulogy; just a small gathering at the St Ambrose Anglican Church on Cypress Street, St Michael this afternoon paying their final respects to 73-year-old Shirley Rogers, who was killed on Valentine’s Day.
The lifeless body of the homeless woman was discovered on February 14 at a bus shed opposite the fisheries complex on Princess Alice Highway, which she had made her home for the past three years.
Police have since arrested and charged 43-year-old Sean Christopher Inniss in connection with her untimely death.
Today, as her brown mahogany casket was ushered out of the church, family members and friends simply could not hold back the tears as they recalled her recent struggles and ultimate unfortunate demise.
Earlier, Reverend Clive Thomas based his sermon on the biblical story of Job, while suggesting that like him Rogers was able to rely on her faith in God in the midst of trials and tribulation.
“Despite the journey that Shirley travelled in the last couple of stages of her life where there were difficult moments, I believe that she understood God was always by her side,” the church leader said, adding that “despite the tragic nature of her passing we must hold on to the words of the Psalms, ‘righteous in the sight of God is the death of his servant’”.
Before turning to a life on the streets, Rogers was a regular worshipper at St Ambrose with her husband, Lionel, who predeceased her. He was a former sexton at the church and today, while speaking of Rogers’ strong foundation in the church, Thomas made reference to the fact that a grey plaque still hangs in honour of her husband’s memory.
“I believe that in the midst of Shirley’s journeys and the hard times of her life that the foundation that she would have received from the church would have planted faith in her to have belief,” he stressed, while asking: “Who are we to judge? We look at the outward appearance, we look at what we can physically see and we judge persons based on the outside, but God sees and knows the heart.
“Let us pray to God that her life would have found favour in his sight. Let us pray that whatever failures that she would have dealt with, whatever mistakes she would have made, that grace and mercy would be remembered in the blood Jesus shared on Calvary for people just like Shirley and he would grant her his forgiveness.”
Thomas also encouraged members of the congregation to put their trust in God no matter their lot in life.
“God never gives us more than we can bear. Life isn’t over. As long as there is life, there is hope. We have to continue to believe and trust in Him,” he said before making a direct appeal to members of Rogers’ family.
“I am saying this to you especially. Trust God despite all you had to cope with during the last year-and-a-half. Walk with God and he will walk with you. He will be the light of your path and the strength of your life. God will renew your strength. When you think it is all over and you can take no more, he will take care of you. You will stand on the strength of the Almighty God. Let us understand that the only way we can live in the midst of this difficulty is if we go with God.”
Immediately following the solemn funeral service, Rogers’ body was interred at the Westbury cemetery, where a single wreath sits at the head of her grave.