Family Members Lost in Queens House Fire Laid to Rest

Tags: Currents Bishop Octavio Cisneros, Diocese of Brooklyn, FDNY, Fire, Holy Child Jesus Church, Queens, NY

By Tim Harfmann

Three funeral hearses with three caskets could be seen as family and friends carried their loved ones into Holy Child Jesus Church.

Silvia Umana was buried in a bronze casket; her son, Gilbert, buried in blue; and her daughter, Guadalupe, in white. Silvia and her two children, ages 19 and seven, died last week when a fire ripped through their Richmond Hill, Queens home.

According to the FDNY, a damaged air conditioner cord caused the blaze and there were no smoke detectors inside the home.

Only Silvia’s 15-year-old son, Gabriel, survived.

“We’re struggling to get by. We’re taking it day by day. Hopefully God gives us the strength to move on with our lives,” said Ivan Umana, Silvia’s brother.

Bishop Octavio Cisneros, the pastor of Holy Child Jesus Church, presided over the funeral in English and Spanish.

“There is no way that we can say a word that would take away the pain and the sorrow, and the suffering; especially of Gabriel, such a young boy,” he said.

“He’s distraught,” said Ivan, “but he also has the support of the whole family. We have a very strong family unit.”

The teenager and members of his extended family brought up the gifts and were consoled by Bishop Cisneros at the altar.

Gabriel also helped carry his mother’s casket.

“She was the first to graduate from college. She became a pharmacist. She was living the American dream,” Ivan remembered of his sister, a single parent from El Salvador.

Bishop Cisneros said the family has the support of the parish and Catholic academy, where Guadalupe would have been a second-grade student next year.

“The Church has become closer today by being present to one another. The Church has come for what it is, a community of believers supporting and helping one another,” he explained.

“We couldn’t have done it without you guys. We’re grateful for the monetary support. The physical, the emotional and the spiritual support given by the parish over here; we couldn’t ask for anything better,” Ivan added.

The principal of Holy Child Jesus Catholic Academy has set up a donation page for people to help the family.