Newport church begins raising money for Newtown funeral expenses
St. Patrick Church parishioner Ann St. Martin Stout had the idea to start the collection while at church the day after the school shooting.
"I was in mass the next morning, Saturday morning, and we all feel the same way - just so heavy-hearted," Stout said. "I don't have any connection other than my heart was breaking for these moms and families and community."
Not knowing the community of Newtown or the victims' families, Stout thought helping to pay for the unexpected costs of a funeral and burial could be a small way to help the devastated families, she said. "I know there is nothing personally we can do for these people. That was one thing that came to mind."
After mass, Stout asked parish priest the Rev. Peter Boucher if he would accept the donations from the community and he agreed.
Boucher has arraigned to give the collected donations to St. Rose of Lima Parish of Newtown, Conn., which has agreed to disburse the money to the victims' families, said St. Patrick Church secretary Nancy Wilmot.
"This is going to be primarily to defray the cost of funerals for victims. Depending on the needs they can spend it on anything else," Wilmot said. "It's just going to make it easier for them."
She added: "Even though it's coming from a Catholic Church this money is for any of the victims' families. It doesn't matter what their faith practice is."
In an email to community members over the weekend, Stout wrote: "While this might seem like a very un-spiritual thing to do, it is one small way that we can lighten the years of burden these families will live with. One of the Corporal Works of Mercy taught in our Faith is to bury the dead. In the spirit of helping ease yet another burden, please consider helping."
Stout said she has already gotten a positive response from people who are grateful to her for creating a way for them to help. Wilmot said donations are already coming in.
"Prayers are so needed right now, but people want to do something concrete," Wilmot said. "We're all directly affected. Everybody's affected by this, partly because the media puts it right in your face. But there is also 'but for the grace of God' it could happen to any of us. It's very personal."
Wilmot said the annual Blue Christmas prayer vigil held by area churches to pray and be mindful of the plight of the homeless is now also a pray vigil for the Newtown victims.
"In this case we're going to make it twofold and remember all the victims as well," Wilmot said.
The Blue Christmas prayer vigil is planned to take place Friday night at the Church of the Epiphany in Newport.
To contribute to the funeral expenses, send checks payable to St. Patrick Parish (they will be cashed and consolidated), and bring or mail to, St. Patrick Parish office 40 School St., Newport NH 03773. Note in memo line: "Connecticut funeral expenses."