STRANGERS in Glasgow have attended a community funeral for an asylum seeker whose death has left her 10-year-old son an orphan.

The Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church in Glasgow arranged a Georgian Orthodox Church style-service to enable the boy and his family to grieve and say goodbye.

Around 40 people, including local residents, representatives from the local community council and a primary school, attended the ecumenical service at Springburn Parish Church to pay their respects to “Ana”.

The 35-year-old, who was born and raised in Georgia, a former Soviet republic on the border of Europe and Asia which has an uneasy relationship with Russia, died after a long illness at the age of 35.

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Springburn Parish Church minister, Rev Brian Casey, said it was “heart-warming” and a true measure of local community spirit that so many people turned out to express love, faith and prayers for her son, who was described as “the centre of her life.


The Church of Scotland has spoken out against the growing scandal of funeral poverty for many years and is campaigning for the introduction of state assistance for those in need.

The service on Friday, February 9 held by Father John McGrath, parish priest of St Aloysius Church in Springburn, included Georgian Orthodox Church traditions such as the recital of the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ.

Incense was burned in a Thurible, a metal censer suspended from chains, with the smoke wafted over the closed casket.

The aromatic material is understood by the Orthodox Church as symbolising the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit and the prayers of the Saints rising to heaven.

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Mr Casey spoke movingly about Ana’s life and family and Father McGrath recited Ecclesiastes 3, the third chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, which talks about “a time for everything”.

Mourners, who also included members of the Georgian community in Glasgow, held lit candles.

And one of Ana’s favourite songs, Shape of You by Ed Sheeran, was played against a backdrop of a poignant set of photographs of the translator, who was fluent in four languages, and her son.


Mr Casey was asked to organise the funeral by the headmaster of Ana’s son’s school.

“It was heartwarming to see so many local people attend to show support for a grieving family,” he said.

“Despite its problems, Springburn has a very strong community and we can still come together and support people in times of need.

“I am a chaplain at Ana’s son’s school and was asked if I could help give him some kind of closure because his mother’s body is being sent back to Georgia to be buried and he wouldn’t have been able to attend the funeral.

“I contacted my colleague Father McGrath and we worked together to bring the faith community of Springburn together to celebrate the life of Ana.”

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Mr Casey said it was one of the “hardest” funerals he has ever conducted because people of the Orthodox faith are much more outgoing in the way they grieve.