Members of the Knights of Columbus were also present at the entrance to the church and paid tribute as the casket was brought it. Members of the clergy praised them during the service for their support of the De Alencar family.
Ward noted during the service that St. Francis de Sales had been Staff Sgt. De Alencar's "spiritual home" growing up in Harford County.
He said later that the De Alencar family had attended the church.
Ward said he invited Van Pelt to lead the funeral Mass because "I though it would be nice to have a person that was career Army preach the funeral Mass, and he was willing to do it, which I was very thankful for."
"We all know that it takes a special man to put on a green beret," Van Pelt said.
He said the Special Forces take "the very best that our Army and our nation have to offer," and that, based on conversations with Staff Sgt. De Alencar's wife, children, siblings and parents, "he was the very best that their family had to offer."
Van Pelt recalled family members telling him things about Staff Sgt. De Alencar, such as he was "my best friend,""a born leader,""always in motion" and "humble."
"My brothers and sisters, I think Mark's greatest mission in life was to love his family, and he did that every day with every ounce of his spirit," Van Pelt said.
Tributes from stepson, father
DeShaun Osborne, who has been Staff Sgt. De Alencar's stepson since age 5, paid tribute to a man he said treated him and his siblings "like we were his own, like he was our dad."
While he was overcome with emotion at some points in his eulogy, he stressed he was trying to find something positive in his family's tragic situation.
"Just know that everything happens for a reason . . . God doesn't make mistakes," Osborne said.
He said his stepfather taught him values such as integrity, hard work, doing what needs to be done rather than what he wants to do.
He is now 20 years old and is a sophomore at Missouri Valley State University.
Osborne also paid tribute to the soldiers sitting in the pews, thanking them for their willingness to put their lives on the line to defend the freedom of people they don't know, and that Americans can go about their lives because of the sacrifices soldiers make.
"Mark is a hero, and one thing about heroes, heroes never die, they live forever," Osborne said.
Joao De Alencar, the father of Staff Sgt. De Alencar, eulogized his son with support from his daughters, Stephanie De Alencar Wicker and Melanie De Alencar McManus. He spoke softly, as he is recovering from a stroke, and his daughters relayed his words.
A retired Army sergeant first class, Joao De Alencar served for 20 years and said after the service he came to Harford County when his son was 10 or 11 years old and the father had been assigned to Aberdeen Proving Ground.
"I love him; I'm very sad," the elder De Alencar said, summing up his son's eulogy.