Franciscan Father Peter Ho holds a funeral rite for a four-year-old girl nicknamed "Little Lightbulb," who was brutally murdered in a random killing on March 28. (Screenshot from Radio Veritas Asia)
The parents of a 4-year-old girl beheaded in a random killing in Taipei last month chose to hold a Catholic funeral for their deceased daughter despite not being believers themselves.
Nicknamed "Little Light Bulb," the girl received funeral rites from Franciscan Father Peter Ho at Our Lady of Assumption Church, the nearest church to the family home in Taipei, on April 13.
The victim's mother Claire Wang, who maintained a good impression of the church since attending Catholic high school but was never baptized, hoped to hold a funeral with Catholic rites for her daughter.
Wang and husband David Liu connected with the church through a parishioner friend.
"I had mixed feelings in my heart after hearing the couple's wish. I thought what a coincidence. We are both family members of victims," Ho told ucanews.com.
Ho's 86-year-old mother died after a motorist deliberately blocked the path of an ambulance taking her to hospital on Christmas Eve 2010. She was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital due to her delayed arrival.
Ho described meeting Wang and Liu as a "remarkable encounter."
"It was just like what the Bible says: 'Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him,'" said the priest, reciting 1 Corinthians 2:9.
Hsiao Ming-li, a doctoral candidate, was widely condemned in Taiwan after a video emerged of him showing his middle finger as his car blocked the ambulance carrying Ho's mother during her final moments.
Hsiao faced widespread condemnation in Taiwan, as did 'Little Light Bulb's killer.
Wang Ching-yu, 33, reportedly had a history of drug abuse and mental illness before he attacked the 4-year-old girl with a meat cleaver outside a Taipei subway station on March 28.
His case has reignited debate over the death penalty in Taiwan, which has executed 32 convicted criminals since 2010.
Despite the recriminations within wider Taiwanese society, Ho and his family decided to forgive the man responsible for his mother's death as Wang and Liu have done in the case of the man who killed their young daughter.
Hsiao apologized for his wrongdoings and was later baptized as a Catholic, Ho noted.
Two days after "Little Light Bulb" was killed, Wang posted a message outside the funeral parlor requesting that those who come to mourn "could be sad, could be moved, could feel longing but do not criticize, do not hate and do not be angry."
During the funeral, the girl's father said he felt his heart had broken at the thought of her suffering. The trauma might take a lifetime to heal, he added.
"Resentment and hatred would not be the right way to face it, as it would only let evil grow," Liu said. "Only love and forgiveness could let me get real peace of mind."
Wang talked of her wish of turning the tragedy of her daughter's death into something positive, using her care and love to create goodness in the world. She spoke of "turning Little Light Bulb into a bright light."