Mourners farewell teacher, 51
SHARON Singleton-Newell's family, friends and students farewelled her at Murwillumbah's Sacred Heart Church this morning.
Parish Priest Father Jim Griffin led the service in which seating ran out and the mourning of those within was audible.
"Our presence today lends support, asks God to tell us why and asks us to keep going as this teacher Sharon would ask us," he said.
Father Griffin recalled one day a "young man" who had been taught by her came to see him.
"He asked, 'how's Shazza going'."
She was diagnosed with bowel cancer in June 2008.
"I said she was finding it difficult," Father Griffin said.
"He said he had finished school because of her and I asked why.
"He said 'because she took an interest in me even when I first thought she was a bit odd. Because of her I stayed at school and became what I am today'."
Father Griffin said Sharon was not just a teacher, but a mother, wife, sister, relation and friend to many.
"Some people seem to make a great impression as teachers, into the hearts of those who laugh and learn," he said.
He compared times he spoke or simply sat with her at John Flynn Hospital to a former Sacred Heart Parish priest who died in 1974.
"I said 'How are you?' and he said 'I am terrified of dying'.
"I said 'But you've helped so many people'.
"He said 'I might have but it's my turn - I'm dying'.
"I suppose at times we'd like to change the plan that God has for our life.
"The opportunity we have today is to be grateful for the gifts Sharon shared with us," Father Griffin said.
The teacher was much loved at St Joseph's College Banora Point and has left behind a daughter at Mt St Patrick College Murwillumbah.
Sharon Singleton-Newell died aged 51.
Click here to see a video tribute to Sharon from one of her former students.
Visit St Joseph's tribute to her at sjctweed.org/singo/Sharon/Sharon_Singleton.html fff