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NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Feb. 8) - A funeral service for U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer Tessa Marie Horan (24) was held at the Free Wesleyan Centenary Church in Nuku’alofa this afternoon, and attended by the Tongan Prime Minister Prince ‘Ulukalala Lavaka Ata.

The funeral procession, led by the Tonga Police Brass Band, began at the Nuku’alofa Mortuary, went through town to the Centenary Church.

The service was conducted by Reverend Penisimani Fonua and included the recital of poems - with songs sung by the 13 new U.S. Peace Corps volunteers that Tessa was assigned to Tonga with.

The church service included a heartfelt commemoration including a song written by Tessa. Also attending the church service was the Deputy Prime Minister Hon. James Cecil Cocker and the Minister of Education Hon. Dr. Tevita Palefau, and Kirk Lindly, a Consular officer and Kelly Cullen, the Regional Safety and Security Officer - both with the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji.

Peace Corps Volunteer Scott Ralston, in reading a commemoration, said that Tessa was from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and graduated from the College of Santa Fe in December 2003. Her love of water and nature drew her to work as a rafting guide in a ski patrol and as an organic farmer, and she also served many youth as an elementary school teacher. Tessa was assigned to Peace Corps Tonga's Group 70 Community Education team in November 2005, and after nine weeks of training she joined the Tu'anuku community in Vava'u. In her aspiration statement Tessa had said, "I am seeking to fall into communities and share the human quest for togetherness and simplicity." Tessa also mentioned one of her favorite inspirational quotes from Gandhi, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Tessa's body will be flown home on Air New Zealand at 11:00 p.m. tonight. She is survived by her mother and father, two brothers, and a sister.

Tessa died after being attacked by a shark in the waters off of Tu'anuku last week.

[PIR editor’s note: Tessa died soon after reaching shore at Neiafu harbor after a shark took her right leg from the thigh down (read the story).]

February 9, 2006

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