Twelve-year-old Wiktor Chojecki, who died when the car he was driving collided head-on with a lorry last week, was kindness personified, his funeral Mass heard on Thursday.'
Wiktor, originally from Poland but living in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, was driving his mother’s Nissan Qashqai approximately 23km from his home on Friday at around 2am when the collision occurred.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, with a small shrine of teddy bears, candles, and floral tributes now marking the point on the N21, on the outskirts of Adare.
Wiktor’s younger sister Julia held her mother, Ewa’s hand as they walked together behind the coffin which was carried by six pall-bearers, including Wiktor’s father, Bart.
The boy’s heartbroken mother gripped a framed photograph of her only son, whom the funeral mass heard had been taken from his family all too young.
Hundreds of mourners attended the ceremony at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Newcastle West, which was concelebrated in both Polish and English by Fr Krzysztof Tyburowski, Canon Frank Duhig and Fr Dan Neenah, who was called to the scene of the collision to administer the Last Rites and who prayed there with Wiktor’s parents.
Fr Duhig told Wiktor’s family the entire local community wanted to “convey sympathy” to them.
Addressing the boy’s parents, Fr Duhig said: “Ewa and Bart, I knew that your pain is great, but I cannot say that I know your pain. Only parents who have lost a child at such a young age can know the pain you are carrying at this time.”
“Ewa, only a mother who has tragically lost a child of her womb at such a young age knows your pain, and for me to say that I know your pain is to belittle that pain. Bart, you have lost the son you dreamed of seeing grow into manhood and carve out a successful career,” he added.
Fr Duhig said there was “great sadness” in the town, where last Sunday a vigil was held in memory of Wiktor and in support of his family, during which coloured balloons were released into the sky.
“There is one word that I heard within an hour of hearing of Wiktor’s death, that has been repeated many times about him by those who knew him well, and that word is ‘kindness’.
"In Irish, we say ‘cineáltas’, and kindness is a deeply Christian virtue that marks Wiktor as a true child of god,” Fr Duhig said.
Fr Tyburowski told mourners: “It is a sad day, but with our prayer, and compassion and friendship, we embrace the family of Wiktor, who left us too quickly in such a dramatic way. We thank God for the great gift of his young life and we pray for his happiness in eternity before god.
“Wiktor was a Pole, a member of a great nation, and the great Polish community in the diocese of Limerick, that has been created with our Irish brothers and sisters, appreciate very much the presence of you Irish people in this sad (ceremony), during which we bid farewell to one of the sons of our Polish nation,” Fr Tyburowski added.
White floral bouquets were placed beside Wiktor’s oak coffin and members of Scoil Mhuire agus Ide Secondary School, where Wiktor attended, sang hymns.
A bouquet of white Lillie’s sent by the Polish Embassy in Dublin, included a card which read: “Deepest sympathy on the devastating loss of your son, Wiktor.”
A tribute printed and passed to mourners included a black and white photograph of Wiktor, alongside a poem entitled 'Afterglow', which read: “I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one. I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done. I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways, of happy times and laughing times and bright sunny days. I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun; Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.”
Over €9,000 has been raised through an online fundraiser set up to support the boy’s family.
The 'Support for Wiktor’s Family' account was established by family friend, Dominica Hogan, who wrote: “As we all known by now, the tragic circumstances that occurred over the weekend, a little man has lost his life.
"We’re trying to make things a little easier for the family by raising funds to go towards funeral costs, and furthermore, to help our friends through what's going to be a very tough road ahead.
"Any donations will be really appreciated. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Gardaí are investigating the circumstances which led to the boy being behind the wheel of his mother’s car in the early hours of last Friday morning, and have appealed for information and witnesses who may have dash cam recordings to contact Newscastle West Garda station on 069-206 50.