On Sunday, June 5, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass and dedicated a new water fountain at St. Gabriel Parish in Greenville in memory of Riley Philpot.
Riley battled cancer for five years and died in 2011, just days before her 11th birthday. According to those who knew her, she showed great love for her family and friends. She enjoyed school, the color pink and playing soccer.
“Riley wouldn't allow cancer to define her, and she didn't let the fear of death scare her into not living,” Kelly Philpot, Riley’s mother, said. “[She] committed her whole life to pleasing the Father, and, even through death, she continues to do so.”
Fr. Romen Acero, pastor, Fr. William G. Quigley, C.I.C.M., of ECU Newman Center, Greenville, and Fr. Jean Pierre from the Congo concelebrated.
“It was a great honor to offer Mass for Riley and her devoted parents and siblings,” Bishop Burbidge said. “Riley would often say that our ultimate goals are to please the Father and to get to Heaven. Pray God we will all be united in that Kingdom where there is the fullness of peace and life without end.”
After Mass, Bishop Burbidge blessed and dedicated the fountain, which was made of rock in honor of Riley.
“Riley's deep faith and profound trust in the Lord remain an inspiration for all her family and all those who were so privileged to know her,” Bishop Burbidge said. “She taught us how to share in the sufferings of Christ with our eyes fixed on the new life He promises to all those who follow him. Her loving parents and family and all of us are united in thanking God for the gift of Riley's life and in praying for her eternal happiness in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
After the dedication, the parish children’s choir sang “Angels Watching Over Me,” a song Riley enjoyed.
Her legacy lives through Riley’s Army, a nonprofit founded to provide support to children with cancer and their families in eastern North Carolina.