Hundreds gathered at Monday evening to mourn the death of freshman Andy Pena, who while traveling with his family in Boston.
Gatherers — mostly students — filled the pews on two levels, and others stood along the wall. A large photograph of Pena smiling broadly was displayed at the front of the church.
Father Frank Gomez, who led the vigil, described Andy as a devoted Christian and a lover of life.
“It is with great sadness that we gather here today to celebrate the life of Andy,” Gomez said. “Every time you think of him, you will think of him with a great big smile on his face.”
Calling Andy a faithful servant of Jesus Christ, Gomez said the bright 14-year-old boy was looking down from heaven and smiling.
“You are grieving. Do not hold it in; let it out,” Gomez said. “It will be your duty as you came today to be there for the family.”
DHS students who are also members of St. John's read excerpts from the Bible and distributed candles to everyone who entered the church. Toward the close of the vigil, they lit the candles.
“Andy’s death is unfair and impossible to understand,” Sydney Schildnecht told the congregation.
Stephanie Winsch read from 1 Corinthians 15:51- 57, in which the Apostle Paul writes about Jesus being victorious over death.
Relaying a message from the Pena family, Gomez said they thanked everyone for being present at the vigil.
“We would like to thank the Pena family for being with us,” Gomez said. “Note how many lives Andy touched during the short time he was with us.”
“When you light the candle, think of his smile,” Gomez said. “Let the candle be a manifestation of the love he has for you.”
A service for Andy is set 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Thomas More Church. A visitation will also be held at the church from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday.