By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Of the nearly 100 people who gathered at GAR Park last night to pray for the Boston Marathon bombing victims, two had a personal interest in the vigil.
When a clergy member leading the vigil asked the crowd to explain the pain they experienced because of the bombings, Thomas McKenna, 56, of Haverhill spoke up.
He said he once met Krystle Campbell on a train while going to Boston. Campbell, 29, of Arlington, a restaurant manager, lost her life in Monday’s attack.
McKenna, who noted the fact that he is blind, called Campbell a compassionate person who “loved life and loved God.”
Elsewhere in the vigil crowd, Cheryl Lupi’s eyes teared as she listened to the words of remembrance being spoken.
Her brother-in-law, Robert Laprel, a well-known retired state police major and avid runner who had participated in the Boston Marathon, died on Dec. 12, 2010, of a heart attack at age 59. His family has held a run and walk in his memory for the past two years, with proceeds going to a Haverhill High School scholarship.
Lupi of Haverhill, who was there with her two daughters, Alisha Lupi, 29, and Erica Lupi, 27, learned about the vigil through an email she received from the Rev. John Delaney, pastor of Sacred Hearts Church. He was among the clergy at the vigil.
“The Boston Marathon was a big thing to Bob, who’d run it for many years,” Cheryl Lupi said of Robert Laprel. “His brother Jim ran in it on Monday, and every time I think of the marathon, I think of Bob and how this would have affected him if he was alive.
“We just never know when tragedy can happen and loved ones can be taken away from us,” she said. “What made me so emotional was that we were all there (at the vigil) praying together. The readings and the poems and the songs were all very beautiful.”
The vigil was organized by Members of the Haverhill Clergy Association. They represented various churches and faith groups in Haverhill and stood side by side on the concrete stage in the park.
In the vigil crowd was a youth group from St. James Church on Winter Street. Members of the group said they wanted to be part of a larger expression of their faith to remember those who died were injured in the bombings.
“I wanted to be here to pray for the families and for the children who were injured,” said 13-year-old Domenica Dillon of Amesbury, a member of the youth group.
Isabela Peixoto, 16, of Haverhill, also a member of the group, said it felt good to be with a larger crowd in remembering the victims of Monday’s bombings.
“We’re keeping them in our prayers,” Isabela said. “We pray that God may comfort those families.”
The Rev. Jane Bearden, pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church, said the vigil’s theme was, simply, “Peace.” The event was open to people of all faiths and religions.
The Rev. Frank Clarkson, pastor of the Universalist Unitarian Church in Monument Square, read an excerpt from a message from the Massachusetts Council of Churches.
“Our hearts are heavy in Massachusetts,” he read to the attentive crowd. “On a great day of civic pride and joy, our city, our nation was once again scarred by violence. Bodies that were made to run and cheer were wounded. Our eyes are burned with images of terror in the very streets where we walk.”
Rabbi Ira Korinow of Temple Emanu-El read the Bible’s Psalm 46, which he called a “Psalm of comfort.” It begins with “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Mayor James Fiorentini also addressed the crowd, saying that despite what happened in Boston, communities will continue to hold public events and marathons.
“The minute we stop, the minute we lock ourselves into our buildings and into our houses, we have lost and they have won,” he said of those who bring terror into communities.
Prayers and songs filled GAR Park as the crowd sang a song of peace, then in unison read aloud a “Litany of Healing.”
The Rev. Susan Gleason, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, read a prayer of remembering which she wrote and titled “In the Wake of the Boston Marathon Bombings.” Her poem concluded with, “As night falls upon this day of infamy, and we are focused on the dark unknown of how and why these seeds of hate were sown, help us to know that though the race today is hard, we do not run a single step alone.”
The vigil ended with the crowd singing the song “Let there be peace on earth.’’
“It was wonderful ceremony,” Cheryl Lupi said. “The least we can do is to get together as a community and pray for these victims. I’m lucky to have had a chance to attend this vigil.”
Masses and prayer services will be held across the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. For up to date postings, visit online at www.thegoodcatholiclife.com/prayforboston.
Joe D’Amore of the Groveland Renaissance Council is hosting a candlelight vigil for the victims of the bombing. It will be Saturday at 7:15 p.m. at Shanahan Field on Main Street, Groveland.
Terri Kelley, artistic and managing director of a classical music series at Lawrence Public Library, plans a concert featuring Gabriel Faure’s “Requiem in D Minus” a Roman Catholic Mass for the dead, on May 5 at 4 p.m. at Corpus Christi Parish at Holy Rosary Church, 35 Essex St., Lawrence.