As mourners surrounded Jassy Correia’s white casket Saturday morning during her funeral Mass in Dorchester, her father, Joaquin, kept vigil at her side.
Throughout the introductory rite and liturgies, Joaquin Correia watched over his daughter under the vaulted ceiling of St. Peter Parish. Then he approached the lectern and eulogized the woman he had brought as a toddler to the United States from Cape Verde 20 years ago.
“May God give eternal rest in paradise to my dear Jassy; rest in peace, my good child,” Joaquin Correia said in Portuguese as John Barros, the city’s chief of economic development, translated his remarks into English.
Jassy Correia, the mother of a 2-year-old girl, Gabriela Castro, was killed late last month after celebrating her 23rd birthday at a Theatre District nightclub.
Dressed in white with a sparkling headband atop her dark hair, Jassy Correia’s body rested before the funeral in an open casket adorned with a white heart-shaped pillow bearing the word “Mommy” in gold lettering. Two yellow daffodils rested at her left side. The casket was closed for the service.
Six women dressed in white served as pallbearers inside the church, escorting the casket down the aisle to its resting spot in front of the altar, where Joaquin Correia kept watch silently, his hands resting atop the white pall on the coffin.
Among the pallbearers was Makeila De Andrade, who eulogized her cousin.
“I’m still trying to understand and make sense of why she was taken from us,” she said. “As difficult and painful as it is, we must accept that Jassy has passed away.”
Mourners laughed softly as De Andrade recalled one of Jassy Correia’s misadventures in the kitchen: She microwaved a hard-boiled egg.
Her cousin loved to eat, De Andrade said. French fries, Spanish rice, and Dominican fried rice with a lime on the side were among her favorite dishes, she said.
Jassy Correia was devoted to her daughter, who goes by Gaby, mourners said.
“Jassy has a lot of people that loved her and those same people will continue to love, guide, and protect her daughter, Gaby,” De Andrade said.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh addressed the gathering, saying the city is committed to making “a better, safer world for women.”
“Women deserve a safe place to live and live from fear,” he said. Women deserve “to go out at night and celebrate their birthdays with their friends and they deserve to come back home afterwards to their children and their families.”
Correia’s body was found Feb. 28 in the trunk of a vehicle driven by Louis D. Coleman III , 32, who has been charged in federal court with kidnapping resulting in death, officials have said. Officers in Delaware apprehended Coleman on Interstate 95 near Wilmington hours after Boston police publicly linked him to Correia’s disappearance.
Correia had visited Venu Nightclub with friends the night of Feb. 23 to celebrate her birthday. At 2:15 the following morning, a security camera captured an image of Correia being approached on Tremont Street by a man later identified as Coleman.
Federal prosecutors have said it appears Correia and Coleman didn’t know each other before that encounter. Surveillance video recorded Correia getting into Coleman’s car under her own power, US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said in a press conference last Sunday.
Another video shows Coleman arriving at his Providence apartment building around 4:15 a.m. on Feb. 24 and going inside alone. He allegedly returned to the car with a blanket, then carried a limp body back inside, Lelling said.
Joaquin Correia reported his daughter missing to Boston police on Feb. 26, her birthday.
Coleman appeared in federal court in Delaware last Monday. The kidnapping charge he faces carries the death penalty in the federal court system, though prosecutors have yet to say whether they will pursue that punishment. The state of Massachusetts doesn’t have the death penalty.
It is unclear when Coleman will make his first court appearance in Boston.
During his eulogy, Joaquin Correia reflected on the fate and future of his granddaughter.
“I ask God to give enough strength and understanding to this 2-year-old child that she may one day be able to face life without her mother,” he said. “We promise to give you all the support you will need to live as freely from this nightmare as possible.”
A program distributed to mourners included a message for the toddler underneath a photograph of Jassy Correia and the girl playing at a Juneteenth event last year in the Franklin Park Playstead.
“I won’t be with you physically but [you’re] a part of me so I’m with you always watching over you,” the message read, written in English and Portuguese. “Remember you are my Princess and never let anyone tell you different . . . You may miss me and not understand but in due time you will get it. Just know mommy loves you!”
At the conclusion of Mass, a trio of musicians — a violinist, guitarist, and ukulele player — led a procession of mourners from the church as they performed a song about separation: “Separação.”