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Matai plays in Heaven

By LAUREL V WILLIAMS Thursday, June 12 2014

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TEARS FOR MATAI: Inconsolable parents Lesley-Ann Halls and Marvin Phillip weep at the side of the coffin bearing the remains of their ten-month-old so...
TEARS FOR MATAI: Inconsolable parents Lesley-Ann Halls and Marvin Phillip weep at the side of the coffin bearing the remains of their ten-month-old so...

THE name Matai, in Hebrew means Gift from God, said a priest who yesterday in offering words of comfort to weeping relatives of ten-month-old Matai Phillip said the baby was “bouncing ball and playing in heaven.”

Fr Alan Hall, parish priest at the Sacred Heart RC Church on Caratal Road, Gasparillo made the comments during an emotional funeral service for Matai who was the son of national football goalkeeper Marvin Phillip and Lesley-Ann Halls, a police officer.

“I will always remember the powerful name he had...Gift from God. God does not take a gift away, He wants to bless us. So although Matai is not here physically, take comfort in knowing he is bouncing that football in Heaven,” Fr Hall said.

Baby Matai asphyxiated while sitting in a car seat at a day care centre in Chaguanas last Friday while his father was overseas on national football duties. A football was placed at the baby’s feet in the tiny casket with Matai’s favourite toy, a rubber ducky, nestled near his head.

Fr Hall recalled baptising Matai on February 9 saying the baby’s name was the first in his book of baptisms for this year. Fr Hall added that some mourners may leave the funeral service angry or looking for answers which they would not find. He urged mourners not to live their lives in the past and in regret.

“I baptised him in February. He died under very questionable circumstances at a day care centre. His short life was a blessing to all. When you Lesley-Ann, walk into this church on Sundays, he is going to be present at your side. He is going to be very much alive. You have to trust that he has gone to a greater place,” Fr Hall said.

Referring, but not going into details, about some recent tragic incidences involving children in the country, Hall said there seems to be an air of delinquency when it comes to children. “In the last three weeks, a 15 year-old, a 16-year-old and a nine-year-old have been shot. How did they come to this demise? The nation is not doing a lot of things,” he said.

During the service, a weeping Halls kept screaming, “My baby! Look my baby!” Phillip was also inconsolable as he hugged the coffin and placed his head on Matai’s chest. As the coffin was closed and taken out of the church for burial at the nearby cemetery, Phillip had to be restrained as he shouted, “I do not want him here. Get him out of here!”

Reports are that at about 6.15 am last week Friday, Matai’s grandparents Lincoln Halls and Gemma Ottley dropped off the child at a day care in Chaguanas. An hour later, someone from the day care contacted the grandparents to say that Matai was unresponsive in his car seat.

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