Members of St. Cecilia struggle with loss of fire victims

Hundreds of members of a catholic parish in The City found it hard to believe someone as beloved and accomplished as 13-year-old Janessa Greig could exist. Now, they are struggling with the reality that she is gone.

The adored honor student and her mother, Jacqueline, were among those killed in a fiery explosion Thursday caused by a ruptured gas line in San Bruno. As of Monday, four people had been confirmed dead while four others remained missing since the blast, officials said.

The Greigs were members of San Francisco’s St. Cecilia Catholic Church, which honored the pair Monday with a dramatic, teary-eyed prayer service. A vigil is planned for Thursday and funeral Friday.

Jacqueline Greig, 44, was a longtime employee of the California Public Utilities Commission who, ironically, had been involved in studies of gas lines near the blast area.

Her daughter, Janessa, was just like her mother — too beautiful to be true, said Sister Marilyn Miller, the principal at St. Cecilia School, where Janessa attended since kindergarten.

Janessa filled nearly every possible role at the 600-student school. She was an honor student, the student body president, a reporter for the school newspaper and a dancer, singer and musician who held major roles in school plays, Miller said. She also volunteered at the SPCA.

“She was somebody everybody loved,” Miller said. “She was outgoing, always had a smile on her face. She was well-respected by her peers. They looked to her as a leader.”

Similarly, Janessa’s mother was a “beautiful, unassuming, wonderful person” who helped at school and at church when she wasn’t at work, Miller said.

Some of Janessa’s actions before her death, Miller said, have helped parishioners believe that she and her mother remain among them.

Recently, Janessa helped the student counsel launch the campaign, “Don’t Stop Believing,” to inspire her peers for the new school year. In a student counsel video that remains posted on the school's website, Janessa reminds her classmates to “create the future.”

“Everybody’s heart is breaking” Miller said. “But we are very lucky to be people of faith who believe in the Bible that life is changed, not ended. We believe in resurrection, and we will see them again.”

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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