On Sunday, August 26, roughly 2,000 friends and family gathered to remember University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, who was found dead after a month of searching for her. A funeral Mass was held in the high school gym in Brooklyn, Iowa.
The beautiful 20-year-old was tragically murdered while jogging in her small Iowa hometown. She was last seen on July 20, and her body was not found until August 21.
Tibbetts’ cousins and two brothers, Jake and Scott Tibbetts, reportedly served as pallbearers during the ceremony. Her former high school teacher JR Glenn and cousin Morgan Collum also gave eulogies.
Those who spoke at Mollie's funeral emphasized her joyful personality. They also focused on how Mollie would have wanted them to move forward after her death.
“Mollie is nobody’s victim,” declared her father Rob Tibbetts told the packed gymnasium at Brooklyn Guernsey and Malcom High School on Sunday during his daughter’s Funeral. “Mollie’s my hero.”
He continued, “And, today it’s time to turn the page. We’re at the end of a long ordeal, but now we need to turn toward life. We need to heal — this community needs to heal, our family needs to heal, but the problem with that is the person best equipped to help us through this is Mollie. So, let’s try to do what Mollie would do. Let’s say what Mollie would say. Let’s start with baby steps.”
Rob celebrated the fact that even after Mollie's passing, people are still living beautiful lives. He told the ground that he wanted to recognize something wonderful because that's what Mollie would have done.
He asked a couple in the crowd, who had just been married, to stand up. They received applause from the people gathered to remember Mollie.
"That felt good. That’s what Mollie would have done."
He followed that with mentioning that Mollie's younger brother had just led his football team to victory in their first game.
"Let’s try one more. Let’s hear it for the Bears football team — for their first win," said Tibbetts.
He also encouraged the people in the crowd to smile at the person next to them and to live every moment of their lives with compassion and kindness—to “live like Mollie did."
Rob went on to describe his daughter as "sweet, kind, faithful and passionate," writes The Gazette. He says his daughter was always ready to listen, and she was always happy to lend a hand.
They also remembered Mollie's dreams. The rising sophomore at the University of Iowa was studying psychology. After college, she wanted to work with troubled children and possibly write a book.
Her parents added that she and her boyfriend of three years, Dalton Jack, were quietly discussing marriage before she was tragically ripped away from him and her family.
The Mass was led by Davenport Bishop Thomas Zinkula. The pastor at St. Patrick's Church in Brooklyn, which Mollie often attended with her grandmother, gave the sermon, remembering Mollie as a beacon of light .
“When I think of the life of Mollie Tibbetts and her tragic death, I wonder why she is gone and I am still here,” said Father Corey Close. “When I hear the many stories of who she was, of how she touched people’s lives, of her infectious joy and smile, I wonder by what rights I have to be living when she, who had so much promise and so much love to give, should have her life cut short. I see Mollie as a bright shining light, touching the lives of those who knew her.”
Like her family, Close's message was one of hope. He emphasized the good that can come through her passing. While the world never got to know Mollie while she was alive, her voice and message was still heard around the world.
“Who can say what fruit that will bear?” Close said. “Who can say what good will come from what Mollie has already given to the world? I’ve already seen how her passing has touched lives — has changed lives.”
The priest to follow her example and “rededicate yourselves to living a good life, a faithful life, a life of goodness and compassion.”
Her cousin, Morgan Collum concluded with a reminder for everyone there. While Mollie's story had a grim ending, the family does not want it to make people lose their faith.
"Please, don’t be mad at God for taking Mollie away from us," Collum told the crowd. "Rather, praise God for his perfect creation in making a soul so sweet, so pure and so caring to all."
Please join us in praying for the Tibbetts family as they continue to mourn Mollie. Her case was such a tragic one, and her family has so much hope that she would return to them.