Editor's Note: This story first appeared in The Eagle-Tribune on Sept. 23, 2001.
In the same church where she was baptized, some 500 people gathered yesterday to mourn Marie Pappalardo, 54, a former Lawrence and Methuen resident who died in the World Trade Center disaster.
In front of the altar at Holy Rosary Church in Lawrence, a single candle flamed next to an easel bearing three photographs of Pappalardo as a curly-haired child, as a young woman and as a mother smiling next to her daughter, Maria, at Maria's wedding.
Pappalardo, who moved from the area 12 years ago, died when the plane she was on, United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the World Trade Center.
Son-in-law Lance Koutny remembered her as "a strong, independent and determined person who worked hard all her life but also knew the value of adventure and was not afraid to pursue it."
"She also had a deep sense of faith," he added, noting that his mother-in-law renewed her faith regularly when she returned to Lawrence to attend the Feast of the Three Saints. She was going back to her home in Paramount, Calif., after attending that festival and visiting family when her plane was hijacked.
"I know Marie would want for us, both personally and as a country, to live our lives as we want to," he told mourners. "It is the hope of my wife and I that we all continue to love and respect each other in both joyous and painful times in the future."
His wife, Maria, did not address the congregation.
As many in the church dabbed their eyes, the Rev. James J. Ronan, pastor, said Pappalardo was in Holy Rosary Church for the first time on Oct. 26, 1947, two weeks after she was born, when her parents brought her to be baptized "here in this sanctuary." She received her first sacraments in the church, he said, "so how fitting it is we gather here in her memory."
Speaking of Pappalardo's zest and spirit of adventure, he said, "Anyone who would choose — select — to take her life and that of so many others, we're talking about something unspeakably, indefinably evil.
"But we believe there is an antidote to evil," he continued, "and that antidote is love, it is unity, it is God, it is prayer."