BRUSHTON Six days ago, a grandmother, mother and two daughters from a North Lawrence family were killed in a fiery car accident while traveling on Route 11 near the town of Antwerp.
On Tuesday, family, friends and community members gathered at St. Marys Church to commemorate the lives of Janet P. Dana, 69, Laurie A. Dana, 42, Caitlyn O. Dana, 14, and Lauryn E. Dana, 11.
We look for hope in a time of confusion. There is no simple answer, the Rev. Garry B. Giroux told the standing-room-only crowd of more than 400 people. Theres nothing that will satisfy us at this point.
The four family members, as well as close friend Shannon M. Planty, 14, and Maryann D. Gregory, 59, who was in a separate car, died after a tractor-trailer smashed into several vehicles stopped Thursday because of road paving work being done in front of them.
We instinctively look for logic. We have questions and we want answers, Father Giroux said, comparing local residents to those struggling in Aurora, Colo., in the aftermath of the movie theater shooting that left 12 dead last week. The words of grief are unspeakable.
The Catholic Mass began with the hymn Amazing Grace as two coffins were rolled down the aisle, surrounded by sobbing family members.
Audience members participated in a communion ceremony, recited the Lords Prayer and joined a soloist who led another hymn, Like a Child Rests. Every available seat was taken, with the overflow flanking the pews and crowding along the sides and back of the church. An estimated 250 mourners also watched from the Brushton-Moira High School auditorium, where a feed showing the funeral was broadcast.
Laurie, of 11858 Route 11, worked at St. Lawrence Elementary School in Brasher Falls as a special education/speech teacher. Caitlyn was set to enter ninth grade in the fall and Lauryn to enter sixth. Janet, the girls grandmother, taught English at Brushton-Moira Central School until retiring in 2000.
Father Giroux focused on two themes throughout his address: transcending death through religion and the power of a community joined together in grief. Death, no matter how tragic, does not win, he said, recalling the family members baptisms. Its not the end of our story.
He urged the crowd to embrace the surviving family members as well as each other.
Even at varying distances throughout the north county, we are bound together by relationships, he said. Let us pledge to support each other. If not by words, simply and powerfully by presence and prayer.