Share “Questions of 'Why' and 'How' fill pews in...”

Questions of 'Why' and 'How' fill pews in CT town

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 16, 2012 at 3:35 pm •  Published: December 16, 2012

Boxes of tissues were placed strategically in each pew and on window sills. The altar was adorned with bouquets, one in the shape of a broken heart, with a zigzag of red carnations cutting through the white ones.

The Rev. Jerald Doyle, the diocesan administrator, officiated. Letters of condolence from the pope and Archbishop William Lori, who left the Bridgeport diocese this year to become archbishop in Baltimore, were read at the start of Mass.

In his homily, Doyle tried to answer the question of how parishioners could find joy in the holiday season with so much sorrow surrounding them.

"You won't remember what I say, and it will become unimportant," he said. "But you will really hear deep down that word that will finally and ultimately bring peace and joy. That is the word by which we live. That is the word by which we hope. That is the word by which we love."

The noon Mass was interrupted and the church evacuated after someone phoned in a threat. Police said nothing dangerous was found.

A spokesman for the diocese said someone called and "threatened to disrupt the mass." About halfway through the service, the priest stopped and told everyone to leave the church.

About an hour later, the all-clear was given. Police said the church would be in lockdown for the rest of the day.

At Adath Israel, nestled in a remote an area of stone walls, rolling hills and woods, people slowly approached the simple cedar-shake structure as a light, cold rain fell. They filed past a blue-and-gold "Happy Hanukkah" banner and a bronze tablet honoring those lost in the Nazi Holocaust.

"We are forever grateful to those who fight tyranny, to our country, and to this wonderful community for allowing us to gather here and practice our faith in peace," the plaque read.

Sunday classes went on as planned at the temple, but without Rabbi Praver. He was meeting with Noah's family to planning the boy's funeral.

A police officer kept watch over the parking lot, but congregation president Andrew Paley crossed the road to speak to the media.

Paley's twin sons, fourth-graders, were at the school — one in the art room, the other in the gym. They heard the shots, saw the bodies.

Saturday was the last night of Hanukkah, and the boys celebrated at home with family. Paley has shielded them from news reports, but he said there are lessons to be had from this tragedy.

"The message, if anything, is that there is good that comes out of evil," he said. "It's the heroism and the community strength that's really coming forward here in Newtown. We're a small-knit community. The Jewish community is smaller. But we all are all together in this."

After Mass, Joan and Jennifer Waters stopped by a makeshift memorial of votive candles, flowers and stuffed animals to pray the "Our Father."

"Can we get these?" Jennifer asked her mother.

"No, those are for the little children," her mother replied.

"Who died?" her daughter asked.

"Yes," said her mother, wiping away a tear.

As for Jennifer's earlier question, her mother assured her that they were surely in heaven.


Associated Press Writers Christopher Sullivan in Newtown and James Martinez in Millburn, N.J., contributed to this report.