A COMMEMORATIVE mass in memory of Sophie Toscan du Plantier ended on Sunday with her son, her brother, and her nephew, being embraced by the Goleen community.
Fr Bernard Jones said the noon mass at the Church of Our Lady, the Star of the Sea and St Patrick – a mass in which he spoke about the true meaning of Christmas.
He did not mention the late French film producer by name – that came at the end of the mass when Sophie’s brother, Bertrand Bouniol, and her son, Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud, said a few words to the congregation – but she was there in the sentiment.
Fr Jones said: ‘Love is what Christmas is all about. That is not something that we can parcel up and put away. The message of Christmas must be alive in all our lives, in all our days. We are entrusted to show that love by the way we live our lives.’
It was on December 23rd 1996 – two days before Christmas – that Sophie Toscan du Plantier was murdered at the end of the laneway leading to her home at Toormore.
Since then, her brother, Bertrand Bouniol, said he and his parents, have come to the church in Goleen to be with his friends, and his family, to participate in a mass for his sister.
This year, however, was the first year that his aged parents did not make the trip. He told the congregation: ‘Now, they are too old, too sick, too tired to come.
‘This year,’ he said: ‘I wanted to come with my son, Baptiste, to continue to pray with you for my sister.’
In broken English, Sophie’s son, Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud, spoke words of love – the love his mother had for West Cork, for Ireland, and the people of Ireland.
He said he, too, loves Ireland, and hopes his children will come to love the country as well: ‘Now my life is voluntarily and involuntarily attached to Ireland because this is the only place I used to come with here, and I am still coming here. I would like to thank you for your welcome in your church, in your home: we feel safe here.’
He said this year is ‘the 20th anniversary of her killing – another death day with no justice.’ And he expressed the belief that justice system in both Ireland and France ‘is very close to the truth.’
Speaking to the congregation, he said: ‘I know some of you are frightened ... but I promise you that we will fight for justice until our last breath and this country will be peaceful again. God bless you. God bless Sophie.’
The people sitting in the pews at the Church of Our Lady, the Star of the Sea and St Patrick applauded Pierre Louis. And most of them waited until the mass was over so they could walk up the aisle to Pierre Louis, Bertrand and Baptiste with their hands outstretched, in a sign of welcome and support.
Speaking to reporters after the mass, Bertrand Bouniol said: ‘It is important to say there is still a murderer free somewhere, so it is important – not only for our family, for my sister, but for everyone – that the murderer, who is free now, will be punished.’