- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 5, 2005

GULFPORT, Fla. (AP) — Hundreds of mourners gathered yesterday to remember Terri Schiavo at a funeral Mass arranged by her parents, while her husband held on to her cremated remains and planned a separate service.

The woman’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, sat in the front row of Most Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, joined by their two other adult children.

Outside, mourners sat in folding chairs or stood as the service was relayed on loudspeakers. At least 800 persons attended.

“She showed us how to live. She showed us the gift of life and how we should share it,” said Monsignor Thaddeus Malanowski, who gave Mrs. Schiavo last rites before she died of starvation and dehydration Thursday, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed.

Suzanne Vitadamo said her sister had “shown the world what perseverance and determination are all about.”

A table beside the altar held a photo of Mrs. Schiavo taken in the 1980s before her brain was severely damaged, one of the pictures widely shown in the last days of the protracted right-to-die case.

The table also featured a photo and gold bust of Pope John Paul II, who died two days after Mrs. Schiavo.

“God calls us to go forth from this place to work together, to preach and witness together so what happened in this tragic case will never happen again,” the Rev. Frank Pavone said in his homily. He is the national director of Priests for Life, which opposes euthanasia.

Mr. Schiavo ordered his wife’s cremation Saturday and said her ashes will be buried in his family’s plot in Pennsylvania, the state where Mrs. Schiavo grew up and met the man who became her husband.

He has not said when a memorial service will be held, but is under a court order to notify the Schindlers of his plans. Mrs. Schiavo’s parents had opposed her cremation and had hoped to bury her in their adopted state of Florida.

A phone message left with his attorney, George Felos, was not returned yesterday.

Mrs. Schiavo, 41, suffered severe brain damage after her heart temporarily stopped because of a chemical imbalance. An autopsy on Mrs. Schiavo’s body was conducted Friday, but results have not been released.

President Bush, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the Florida Legislature and Congress all tried at various times to block removal of Mrs. Schiavo’s feeding tube, but state and federal courts all sided with Mr. Schiavo.

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