Monday 22 October 2018

'My heart is breaking for you' - Irish nun's words to parents of Jastine Valdez

  • Irish nun who lived in the Philippines pays tribute to 'little angel' Jastine Valdez
  • Nun encourages people to help fundraise for repatriation of remains
  • Gardaí issue another appeal to the public for information
Jastine Valdez, 24, from Enniskerry (Garda Press Office/PA)
Jastine Valdez, 24, from Enniskerry (Garda Press Office/PA)
Jastine Valdez in a photo from her Facebook page
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

An Irish nun who lived in the Philippines for 17 years has told of the comforting words she shared with the parents of Jastine Valdez.

Sister Bernadette Purcell, who works as a full-time Roman Catholic Chaplain at IT Tallaght where tragic Jastine was studying, paid tribute to the murdered student today.

The nun said she would not see the part-time students on a regular basis, but credited the accounting student with having the personality of a "little angel".

Sr Bernadette said she rang the parents of Jastine earlier today to share her sympathies and offer of support.

Rizza and Katrina Mamuric at the vigil for Jastine
Rizza and Katrina Mamuric at the vigil for Jastine

"I called the mum and I said I can speak some Filipino," Sr Bernadette told RTE Radio One's DriveTime programme.

"I spoke for just a very short time. She was inconsolable.

"I felt the most sensible thing was not to pursue any conversation and to give her some space. I suppose you can't script it, but I said 'my heart is breaking for you, we are here to help you in any way we can'.

"I said, 'Through all of this, we'll get through this together'.

Gardai pictured at the scene at Pucks Castle, Rathmichael ,Co Dublin today.
Gardai pictured at the scene at Pucks Castle, Rathmichael ,Co Dublin today.

"I think it's important to say 'together' to let them know they are not alone."

Sr Bernadette said she had spoken with Jastine a couple of times in the college. She said they have a memorial for the tragic 24-year-old set up in the college for students and are hosting a memorial service.

Gardai conduct searches in the Puck’s Castle area near Dublin (Donall Farmer/PA)
Gardai conduct searches in the Puck’s Castle area near Dublin (Donall Farmer/PA)

"Anybody I have met today, they are saying for it to happen anyone in the student body, of all the people this could happen to, it's incredible. "She was just a little angel.

"Jastine had a very gentle presence as most Filipino people do in their personalities.

"We need to watch out for the family now. I believe there is some appeal for some funding to repatriate her body now.

"Of course they will want to be among their families and friends at this difficult time.

"Getting the remains home is hugely important, as we know ourselves when someone passes away abroad.

"If we can do anything to help them, that's what we should be doing."

Meanwhile, gardai investigating the death of Jastine Valdez have renewed their appeal for information.

Gardai said that they are particularly interested in the movement a black Nissan Qashqai, registered number 171 D 20419, and the driver of this vehicle Mark Hennessy, between 5pm on Saturday and 8pm on Sunday.

Hennessy is described as 176 cm (5’9’’), of slight build and balding and he was wearing a dark coloured tee shirt, blue jeans and grey runners at the time.

Gardai would particularly like to speak with people who were in the Dalkey, Killiney, Ballybrack, Sallynoggin, Cherrywood, Rathmichael areas. The car may have stopped at restaurants, cafes, petrol station shops or bars in those areas.

Gardai are also asking people who were in the area and who have dash cam footage to contact them.

Jastine Valdez, 24, was spotted being bundled into a black jeep in Enniskerry at approximately 6.15pm on Saturday.

A body, believed to be that of Ms Valdez, was found in a disused golf course in Rathmichael at 3.30pm on Monday.

Gardai now believe that Ms Valdez' suspected abductor and killer, Mark Hennessy, may have killed her within an hour of the abduction before dumping the body in the remote location.

Outreach Ireland, a group who work with the Filipino community in Ireland, have set up a GoFundMe page to assist the family of Ms Valdez.

So far the page has raised almost €60,000.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News