Following communion, the church vocalist began to sing. Her ringing soprano voice filled St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church in Oyster Bay Monday with Franz Schubert's immortal musical prayer: "Ave Maria."
In Latin, it means: "Hail Mary."
It was a fitting ending to a solemn funeral Mass to commemorate the life of who grew up on Long Island but found her mission covering distant lands and foreign conflicts. Her last assignment for the Sunday Times of London cost her her life. Colvin's work goes on.
About 400 people attended the 11 a.m. service at St. Dominic's, presided over by the Most Rev. Paul Walsh, auxiliary Bishop of Rockville Centre. Colvin's mother, Rosemarie Colvin, who still lives in East Norwich, and family members were joined by the journalist's friends and colleagues from around the world, including a large contingent from the Times of London.
One of them, Sean Ryan, the foreign desk editor of the Sunday Times, summarized the eulogies this way:
"The best way to remember her is by her final story, where she summoned the courage to cover a story that had to be covered," Ryan said. "She was frightened, but overcame that fear to report the vital news."
"She was willing to die to tell the story of a people caught in that terrible conflict," Ryan said. "That was what Marie stood for."
Colvin, 56, who became a voice for the voiceless, was born in Astoria, Queens, and grew up in East Norwich, attending Oyster Bay High School. She graduated in 1974 and went on to Yale.
She spent the next three decades working as a journalist and foreign correspondent, reporting on wars in far-off countries for the Sunday Times of London.
She was covering the slaughter of Syrian civilians in Homs when she died in a government-sponsored rocket attack on the undefended city. The government forces are loyal to Syrian dictator who has waged a civil war on dissident elements in the Middle-Eastern nation.
Colvin's last disptach came in a televised report from Homs where she had just watched the death of a baby boy from the shelling. She told CNN's Anderson Cooper that the government was shelling “a city of cold, starving civilians.” She added that “It’s a complete and utter lie that they are only going after terrorists. There are no military targets here."
Colvin's determination to tell the stories of the oppressed cost her an eye. She lost her left eye in Sri Lanka in 2001, when that country was embroiled in civil war. Back then, she was telling the story of the Tamil people, who were struggling in yet another ethnic conflict in the northeaster region of Sri Lanka.
A large contingent of Tamils were present at Monday's funeral, holding and signs and passing out literature about the ongoing stuggle in their homeland.
European diplomats and the International Red Cross intervened to get Colvin's remains out of Syria and into the hands of the U.S. State Department. When her body finally returned to New York, her coffin was covered with an American flag, Ryan said.
The triangular-folded Stars and Stripes were displayed in the rear of the hearse as it made its way to the cemetery Monday under police escort.