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CURRENT ISSUE:  September 20, 2010
VOL. 48, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
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Top student, a San Bruno fire
victim, mourned by classmates

Students at St. Cecilia School in San Francisco attend an emotional prayer vigil in the school pavilion for their classmate, Janessa Greig, 13, who died when the Sept. 9 pipeline explosion and fire destroyed her home in San Bruno. Janessa’s mother, Jacqueline Greig, also died in the disaster.

Janessa Greig, 13, an honor student and student body president of St. Cecilia School in San Francisco, delivered the introduction to the school Mass on Thursday, Sept. 9.

That evening, the eighth-grader was gone, dying along with her mother, Jacqueline Greig, in the pipeline blast and fire that destroyed their San Bruno home. Janessa’s father James Greig and the couple’s older daughter Gabriela, a high school junior, were at a tennis match at the time at St. Ignatius College Preparatory. They stayed for back-to-school night.

Janessa came home so she could work on her homework, and her mother was home from work, said Holy Names Sister Marilyn Miller, St. Cecilia School principal.“So they were home together,” she said.

Janessa, who attended St. Cecilia for nine years, was the eighth-grader that all the other students saw every day on closed-circuit TV giving the day’s announcements. Sister Marilyn finds it hard to believe she is gone.

St. Cecilia School students grieve Janessa Greig, whom their principal and pastor described as a friend and scholar.
“She always had a smile on her face,” Sister Marilyn said. “She was someone who was very warm, outgoing and generous, respected by all the kids.”

Jacqueline Greig, 44, was on the pastoral council, serving her third year in the volunteer position as secretary. James Greig had served on the council before her. The family sat together weekly at 9:30 a.m. Mass.

“There was a hole on Sunday,” said Mother’s Club president Sally Holper, whose family often sat behind the Greigs.

Jacqueline Macedo Greig was quiet and effective on the pastoral council because “she really listened to people,” said St. Cecilia pastor Msgr. Michael Harriman . “She had a beautiful smile. She was a beautiful, unassuming woman. She was there when you needed her.”

Jacqueline worked full time but made time for school activities, recently helping with the Mexican food booth at the school multicultural day in the spring, serving nachos with her father. Her focus was on her children, Janessa and Gabriela.

“Wherever her girls were, she was there,” Sister Marilyn said.

In the drama club, Janessa played Aladdin as a sixth grader in the school musical, danced ballet and took singing and art lessons. Holper said Janessa had a half-finished self-portrait at the art studio where Janessa and Holper’s daughter Charlotte studied drawing together.

The school Mass where Janessa gave the introduction was originally scheduled for the next day, Sept. 10, a Friday. But, at the beginning of the week, Msgr. Harriman learned that a funeral was scheduled for that day. In a move that both found providential, he and Sister Marilyn changed the Mass date to Thursday, which would turn out to be Janessa’s last day.

The Sunday night after Janessa died, the pastor took out the DVD from last spring’s Rite of Confirmation, where Janessa was chosen to deliver one of the reflections. He was struck by her mature grasp of her Catholic faith.

“She had an incredible understanding of theology,” Msgr. Harriman said. “She had a wonderful understanding of what it means to be a confirmed Christian. She talked about Jesus as the center.

“It was striking,” he said, “just striking.”

Those wanting to help James and Gabriela Greig may send donations to St. Cecilia School with a memo noting that the gift is for the Greig family. The address is St. Cecilia School, 660 Vicente St., San Francisco, CA 94116-3077.

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