Catholic News Service
DORCHESTER, Mass. — Hundreds of people converged on Garvey Park in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester for an evening candlelight vigil April 16 to remember Martin Richard, an 8-year-old killed in bombings at the Boston Marathon April 15, and to pray for the Richard family.
Martin’s mother, Denise, suffered a brain injury and his 6-year-old sister, Jane, lost a leg in the blast.
Two bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon, killing three people and wounding more than 170. The two others killed included Krystle Campbell, 29, from Medford and Lu Lingzi, 23, a graduate student at Boston University from China.
Richard received first Communion at St. Ann Parish in Dorchester last May. His father, Bill Richard, released a statement before the vigil thanking family, friends and people they don’t even know “for their thoughts and prayers.”
“I ask that you continue to pray for my family as we remember Martin. We also ask for your patience and for privacy as we work to simultaneously grieve and recover,” the statement said.
Father John J. Connolly, pastor of neighboring St. Brendan Parish who lives at St. Ann, led the prayer vigil, while Father Sean M. Connor, pastor of St. Ann, stayed with the Richard family.
Father Connolly told those gathered that Bill Richard was thankful for their prayers, support and kindness and he requested that his “family be granted the necessary space and time both to mourn and to recover.”
Earlier in the day, neighbors had done just that. At the family’s home in Dorchester, police officers carried flowers from community members who stopped by across the perimeter they set up to protect the privacy of the Richard family.
At the vigil, Father Connolly greeted the crowd and introduced Courtney Grey, director of trauma services at the Boston Public Health Commission.
“This audience is extremely beautiful. I wish you could see what we see from here, the candles and the beautiful faces that are coming together for this reason. What we want to say to you is that we are sorry, but also that there are things that we can do to take care of ourselves and our community members,” Grey said.
Grey invited anyone in need of counseling to speak with counselors present at the vigil or to contact the commission later.
Father Connolly began the prayer portion of the vigil by recognizing the emotions of those who held their candles high and waved flags at the park that night.
“Good and gracious God, we come before you this evening with hearts full of sorrow and sadness, anger and confusion. We come before you as residents of a neighborhood who have been touched all too directly by the reality of violence and evil in our midst,” he said.
“We come tonight as citizens of the United States and citizens of Boston, as residents of Dorchester, because what once seemed to be something we watched at a distance or on television has come all too close to home.”
At the end of the vigil, the crowd spontaneously began singing “God Bless America.”
“It is good to see the community come out to support the family,” said Zach Holland, a sophomore baseball player at Boston Latin Academy. “It is good, but I don’t think I like to see the community like this, even though a death like this helps to bring everybody together.”
Chris Gross, 44, a St Ann’s parishioner, said he saw Richard Martin frequently since he coached a team in the same CYO basketball league Martin played in.
“He was a great kid who loved life, loved the Bruins, loved basketball, soccer and baseball. I just can’t believe that he is gone,” he told The Pilot, newspaper of the Boston Archdiocese.