Remembering Miranda Harris


Given by Paula Banza at Miranda’s thanksgiving service

‘Miranda had a profound impact on everyone who met her. Our lives were richer and happier because she shared her life with us. And she lived a life worth living.

This year I lost two mothers … One was my biological mother and the other was Miranda. Because a mother is someone who cares for you and will always be there, no matter how far away. I remember one day Miranda quoting someone who said ‘The world needs mothers’. I think she really made sure she would be one of them. Not just for Jo, Estie, Jem and Beth but to all the A Rocha Family. Because in truth A Rocha is a big family. Maybe instead of calling Miranda and Peter Founders, we should call them Mum and Dad – or Mama Jem, as Colin used to call Miranda.

Miranda took care of us all as a mother does, she really cared about her many children; always with a friendly card, a thoughtful gift, a word of encouragement, a hug and a special prayer … She was a woman of prayer; I remember her going to meet her friends in the village, a lady in her eighties and Idalina, who was in a wheelchair, to pray with them or going to Jill’s house in Luz to spend time praying for us all. We, her children, were all special to her and her heart was so big that, even when A Rocha grew and there were many more people to care for, she would still do it, always remembering everyone and sharing love unconditionally.

My favourite ‘C’ of A Rocha (see A Rocha’s core commitments) is ‘Community’ because that’s the heart of the Trinity. We are a family with many brothers and sisters from all over the world. The A Rocha model of a family didn’t come by chance, I believe it came from Miranda’s loving care as a mother and her understanding of the God whom she served so joyfully.

Miranda would turn every place she went into a home. She knew the importance of welcoming people into a home and that was how she practiced hospitality. Many remember that the most expensive investment Peter and Miranda made in the early days of A Rocha at Cruzinha was a dining table. If that table could talk, it would give witness to the heartfelt and meaningful conversations that took place there. Conversations about food, faith, friendship, family, farming, fisheries and forests (just to include conservation themes starting with the letter F; Marcial added this). Basically conversations about life! She lived her life with a purpose and I admired her so much because she was single-minded. She knew God had called her to serve people and to be a good steward of all His creation. And she accomplished her job in a wonderful way here on Earth.

Without Miranda the world will never be the same.

We will never be the same …

But I know one day we will be together. And I can imagine how it is going to be.

It will be Christmas because Miranda loved Christmas and Jesus will be there anyway … She will prepare a special Christmas party for us. There will be a roasted turkey like she used to cook for the team at Cruzinha and her mince pies (the best I’ve ever tasted). A lovely tablecloth, flowers and candles for the table and Miranda will be there welcoming us all and asking to join her at a big table. And we will sit and feast together. As Sandra McCracken beautifully sings We will feast and weep no more.’

Thanksgiving service

Video recording of the thanksgiving service held in memory of Miranda Harris, co-founder of A Rocha, on 14 December 2019 in St Aldates Church, Oxford, UK. (1h 35 minutes)

Our deepest gratitude to St Aldates for hosting, filming and making this video available.

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