The day the Oquendo family saw in their nightmares became a reality. Young 14 year old autisticm child Avonte Oquendo was remembered at a funeral Mass at St. Joseph’s in the Greenwich Village of New York City. The Mass was presided over by former archbishop of New York, Edward Cardinal Egan.
Avonte went missing over three months ago after surveillance cameras captured him leaving his school. He was supposed to have at least three adults with him at all times, but they were nowhere. He slipped right out of the school never to be heard from or seen again until his remains were found in College Point, Queens a week ago.
You Avonte was 14 years old, but had the emotional and intelligence quotient of a 6-8 year old. He was a mute autistic child on the spectrum and had some phobias, including a fear of dogs and water bodies. Moreover, he was fond of trains which brought volunteers to search subways to see if he went there out of curiosity to see his favorite thing.
Cardinal Egan describe Avonte as a strong, courageous young man who handled autism with immense grace and nobility. He is correct indeed. No one has a bad thing to say of this innocent child who bore his cross well and was called home by his heavenly Father.
The story of Avonte’s disappearance touched many people including myself. As a student of psychology, I did work in regards to people with special needs. Moreover, as a pro-life Catholic, it is important to speak out and call to attention the needs of people who are born a bit “differently” than the rest. These people are human just like us, and are made in the Image and Likeness of God. It pains me to hear people even suggesting that we should “weed” the human species of these “genetic impurities.” Unfortunately this nonsense is propagated in many places especially universities. These rhetoric comes from psychopaths who think we are in the movie “Gattaca” which takes place in a world where eugenics is the rule of law and morals.
Moreover, the news of Avonte brought people together. Funeral director Peter Deluca even offered his services free of charge to the Oquendo family. Hundreds of others from all over felt compelled to attend the funeral as well. The Oquendo family plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the city. While the money they will get will not bring back Avonte, at least it can bring attention to the problem of unsupervised children.
Too many times, teachers are overly protected by unions who put salary over children. This has to change. Teachers and their superiors must be held accountable whether they are in a union or not. A teachers’ union must not be a force that no one can touch. It is subject to the law, common sense and simply: doing the right thing.