By MORGAN MANNS
A Fostoria family said their final goodbyes to a loved one Wednesday morning at St. Wendelin Catholic Church.
Hundreds of people filled the church to celebrate the life of a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a niece, an aunt, a cousin and a friend, Janelle Drazan Nichole Mauricio who died in a shooting last week.
Her cousin, Alyha Herrera, opened the 10:30 a.m. Mass by singing “Dancing in the Sky,” which she said was one of Janelle’s favorite songs. In a melodic soprano, she sang to Janelle, asking what Heaven looks like and if all of her fears and pain had gone away.
Freddie and Maria Mauricio covered their youngest child’s wooden casket with the pall, a cloth symbolizing the love and embrace of Christ.
The cloth is similar to the cloth worn at baptisms, according to the Rev. Nicholas Weibl. On the casket, it serves as a reminder that “Christ will always be with (Janelle)” and that “she will walk with Jesus to everlasting life.”
Freddie then took a cross offered by Weibl, kissed it and placed it on the cloth that covered Janelle’s eternal resting place.
A large procession of mourning family members and friends filled the pews of the church as the choir sang and the white pall-covered casket was placed at the front of the assembly.
“For you, this is a time of great sorrow, to have someone so young suffer such a violent death,” Weibl directed towards hundreds of crying loved ones. “For Janelle, this is her awakening. God’s love has touched her. So rejoice for her sake as she will always be here with us, walking together with you through your grief, pain and sorrow.”
Janelle’s Uncles Abel Garcia Jr. and Nathan Farris read scriptures from the Bible during the service, asking God to help them during this time and to take Janelle into His holy kingdom.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,” Abel read.
After communion, Freddie and Maria signed the Book of Remembrance and those that gathered were invited to a luncheon at the Parish Life Center.
Maria said she waved as the pall bearers took her daughter away in the casket.
“I would always wave at her and tell her to be careful and that I love her when she would leave,” Maria said, tears building in her eyes. “And as they took her away, I waved and told her to be careful and that I love her, that I’ll always love her.”
Janelle would spend time every week with her mother, cuddling under a blanket and watching Pretty Little Liars, according to Maria. They would spend “mother-daughter quality time” together going to dinner and a movie.
“She loved family,” her brother, Freddie III, said. “Right now, she’d be sitting over at the table with all the kids at it.”
Luis Mauricio, a cousin, called Janelle a sweetheart, stating she was always easy to talk to and always left people with smiles on their faces.
Cruze Baker, another cousin, said she wasn’t a person that ever had anything to fight about and that she would do anything you needed her to do. He expressed that she wasn’t only a good person but an amazing cousin as well.
“She would visit almost every Sunday,” her grandfather, Abel Garcia, smiled as he recalled the memory. “She would give me a kiss and a hug and bring me pop or tea. Then when she would leave, she would pat my leg and say, ‘Take good care.'”
“She was always thinking about someone else,” her grandmother, Lupe Garcia added.
Janelle’s aunt Margie Molina remembered a time when Janelle showed one of her many kind actions, which happened at her grandfather’s (dad’s father’s) funeral. Freddie was having a difficult time getting through the liturgy for his father and Janelle, without hesitating, gave him a hug and finished it for him.
“That’s when I knew she was someone special,” Margie said. “It was the most beautiful thing and she was the most beautiful, wonderful, caring and loving person.”
“I don’t know if she ever knew, but I looked up to her,” Monika Howard, Janelle’s older sister, said. “She was fearless and lived life to the fullest. She will be missed by a lot of people.”
Pastor Jose Martinez explained the meaning behind his cousin’s name and how it perfectly described her. Janelle means God is gracious; Drazan means precious; and Nichole means victorious.
“God had given us a gift mingled with grace when he brought Janelle into our lives,” he said. “I tell everyone to look not at the quantity but the quality of the life she had. Focus on what she did, how she did it.”
Janelle donated her time, efforts and money towards helping others.
Included in her list of selfless actions, she raised money for local diabetes patients.
She worked at Cedar Point on Hallow Weekends and also at Applebees in Findlay.
“In the short amount of time that I knew her, the impression she left behind is unexplainable,” said Rachelle Sanchez, a coworker. “She was such a fantastic person.”
Family members sitting at a table during the luncheon following the Mass reminisced and laughed about special moments they shared with Janelle and described how big of an impact she had on everyone she met.
“She could just walk into a room and it would brighten up,” Maria said, adding that a woman from a local gas station told her how nice and sweet Janelle was to her, although they had only met a handful of times.
“She will be remembered for her goodness,” an emotionally distraught great aunt, Heather Mauricio, said, pausing to wipe away her tears. “She touched everyone she came into contact with. She was an angel from God. She didn’t deserve this.”
“I don’t understand what would possess someone to do such a thing,” said Lacie Fetro, Janelle’s cousin, referring to the gunshot wounds that ultimately took Janelle’s life May 21. “She was loved by everybody that knew her. She’s going to be missed for the presence she brought everywhere with her.”
Many friends and family members were unable to put their feelings into words and instead, showed their grief through endless tears and loving embraces.
“She was always laughing and smiling,” said Sierra Baker, who became friends with Janelle in school. “I think I only ever saw her cry once. She wasn’t a sad person. She always found a reason to smile.
“She definitely didn’t want anyone here crying. She would have said, ‘Cheer up, don’t cry. You’ll see me again.'”