Just weeks away from the annual St. Edward's Festival, the host of the festival was reminded Saturday that their favorite dunk tank contestant would be absent. The extended family joined together at the church Saturday to bid a final farewell to the .
"Her half hour in the dunk tank at the festival was our most lucrative, as she would sit, taunting the crowd," said St. Edward's Father Thomas Fusco as the hundreds in the crowd smiled and giggled.
"She could laugh at herself and make others laugh too … There was no guile," said Fusco with a pause, his voice cracking. "Just a down to earth, 'I know who I am,' humility."
As several hundred congregants packed the St. Edward's pews, a few hundred more under a tent outside the front doors, they recalled Sister Jackie's love of children, her dedication to her work as a Sister of Mercy, and her ability to live a full life all the way to her .
Sister Anne Lynch recalled Sister Jackie's perfect last day, on retreat in Water Mill.
"Having just left the pool, Sister Jackie said, looking up at the most beautiful blue sky on a most perfect summer afternoon, 'This is heaven,'" said Sister Anne, who recounted Sister Jackie's last moments. "Then she carefully selected her music … put on her iPod with earbuds and began her walk on Rose Hill Road."
It was on that walk that Sister Jackie was tragically killed in a hit-and-run accident. Those who knew Sister Jackie have been encouraging forgiveness and prayers for the driver of the car. The driver is still at large, according to Southampton Town police.
"Even though the circumstances remind us that life is fragile, unpredictable, and uncertain, it also reminds us that life is to be treasured," said Fusco, adding that the St. Edward's family will be awaiting the "first of many miracles that will come our way," now that she is gone.
Sister Jackie was buried in Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury.