Truckee community pays last respects to baby Guadalupe
More than 200 people crowded into Assumption Catholic Church in Truckee last week to attend memorial services for “Guadalupe,” the infant whose body was found by workers sorting trash at the Eastern Regional Transfer Station.
Services were conducted Tuesday, Nov. 24. Community members filled the church to capacity, and news crews from several television stations jostled at the rear of the church for good filming positions, while others set up lights and cameras outside.
In front of the altar, Guadalupe rested in a white casket surrounded by bright flowers.
The Rev. Stanley Poltorak, who officiated at the service, focused on the sacredness of human life in his homily.
“We show respect for human life when we are compassionate to one another, even to those of us who are the smallest and fragile, those who are in need of everything, for they are not able to provide for themselves,” he said. “The self-giving love that each of us can share begins with those who are closest to us – family, friends, co-workers and all.”
In the homily he praised the community, especially the workers who found Guadalupe and adopted her as their own.
“You adopted this child when you found her at the trash recycling center,” he said. “You gave her a name, Guadalupe. She is one of us. She is a part of us and our community. You, her family, have given her a blessing, love and caring that acknowledges Guadalupe’s arrival into this world Guadalupe reminds us that every child is a unique expression of God’s love and should be surrounded by love and acceptance and treated with dignity.”
He also spoke to the unknown mother of the child.
“Our prayers are for you since we do not know of the circumstances that led you to this decision. Keep in mind that there is no decision so grave that you must face it alone. Help us all to reach out to you and to others like you to assist you in making your situation and life purposeful and meaningful. Do not be afraid to call on God and his people.”
Later Poltorak said his desire was to address the larger community in his service, as well as the mother of the child.
“My whole focus was to reach out to a wider community, and not just parishioners,” he said. “The idea was also to reach out to the mother, to say how can we help, and help her to move on with life, to acknowledge what happened and to prevent it in the future.”
For Truckee resident Joe Suter, and apparently for more than 200 others, attending the memorial service helped restore dignity to Guadalupe’s life. He and his wife, who sings in the church choir, both attended the service.
“We’re just paying our last respects,” Suter said after the service, cradling his baby daughter. “It’s the only humane thing to do.”
Many employees from the Eastern Regional Transfer Station attended the memorial service. As Guadalupe’s adopted family they sat in reserved seating at the front of the church, and attended a private service afterward. Several of the workers are Spanish-speaking, and the homily was translated into Spanish for their benefit by Anna-Maria Shannon, a community services officer from the Placer County Sheriff’s Department.
For the workers, the memorial service brought a sense of closure, operations manager Kevin Delaney said. Delaney was on duty Nov. 16 when one of the employees sorting trash at the facility opened a plastic bag which contained the baby.
“Things are starting to get back to normal,” he said, following the service. “I thought the service went really well, and it really brought a closure to the people here at the materials recovery facility. It was important to us to do the right thing for this little girl.”
Delaney said the workers were able to share more of their feelings in the private service after the main memorial service.
“It went on for about an hour,” he said. “They were able to talk and get out the feelings again, and get some finality to it. Everyone showed up for work today and they are up there working now.”
He said employees still plan to place a memorial to Guadalupe inside the materials recovery center.
Contributions to Guadalupe’s memorial service included a christening dress purchased by the Assumption Catholic Church secretary and bright floral displays surrounding her casket. Flower arrangements were provided by church members, Tahoe-Truckee Sierra Disposal Co., a Truckee florist, and others.
Tahoe-Truckee Mortuary owners Joe and Clare Aguera donated their services, and Tahoe-Truckee Sierra Disposal Co. and the Agueras will be handling all funeral expenses for Guadalupe at the Sierra Mountain Cemetery in Truckee.
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