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Catholic community mourns mother killed on Southwest flight

Jennifer Riordan. a Catholic wife and mother from Albuquerque, lost her life in the incident on a Southwest Airlines flight (CNS/Albuquerque Journal)

Catholics have paid tribute to Jennifer Riordan, who died on April 17 when an airplane’s engine exploded in the air.

Mrs Jennifer Riordan, 43, was a parishioner of Our Lady of the Annunciation Catholic Church in Albuquerque, and her two children went to Annunciation School.

Santa Fe Archbishop John C Wester said: “Our hearts go out to the family of Jennifer Riordan, who lost her life yesterday, during the tragic plane accident.” The archbishop also said he would “pray for the repose of her soul and for her dear loved ones.”

As news of the tragedy spread, the assistant principal at Annunciation School where the two Riordan children attend, sent an email to parents confirming Riordan’s death and simply adding: “At this point, the family needs all the prayers we can offer.”

The school posted a statement on its Facebook page saying it was “devastated to lose an integral member of our school community,” noting that Riordan often volunteered at the school and also served on its consultative council.

“She was seen on campus almost daily supporting her beautiful children. She provided encouragement to everyone with whom she came in contact. Her positive motivating spirit will be missed,” the statement added before concluding with the promise that the school community would “keep Jennifer and her family in prayer.”

Among Riordan’s numerous community engagements, she was on the board of directors at The Catholic Foundation, a nonprofit Santa Fe archdiocesan organisation that links donors to parishes, schools and organisations in need.

Ed Larranaga, the foundation’s president, told the Catholic News Service that she wanted to help Catholic schools through the foundation and by sending her children to Catholic school.

A statement issued by the Riordan family said: “Jennifer’s vibrancy, passion and love infused our community and reached across our country. Her impact on everything and everyone she touched can never be fully measured.”

Mrs Riordan was returning from a business trip in New York when the Southwest Airlines plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia. Shrapnel from the damaged engine hit the plane, breaking the window beside her. Riordan was pronounced dead at a hospital from blunt trauma to her head, neck and torso, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Health said.