NEWTOWN, Conn. —
In his homily, the Rev. Jerald Doyle, the diocesan administrator, tried to answer the question of how parishioners could find joy in the holiday season with so much sorrow surrounding them.
"You won't remember what I say, and it will become unimportant," he said. "But you will really hear deep down that word that will finally and ultimately bring peace and joy. That is the word by which we live. That is the word by which we hope. That is the word by which we love."
After the Mass, Joan and Jennifer stopped by a memorial outside the church filled with votive candles and a pile of bouquets and stuffed animals underneath, to pray the Lord's Prayer.
Jennifer asked whether she could take one.
"No, those are for the little children," her mother replied.
"Who died?" her daughter asked.
"Yes," said her mother, wiping away a tear.
Amid the confusion and sorrow, stories of heroism emerged, including an account of Hochsprung, 47, and the school psychologist, Mary Sherlach, 56, rushing toward Lanza in an attempt to stop him. Both died.
There was also 27-year-old teacher Victoria Soto, whose name has been invoked as a portrait of selflessness. Investigators told relatives she was killed while shielding her first-graders from danger. She reportedly hid some students in a bathroom or closet, ensuring they were safe, a cousin, Jim Wiltsie, told ABC News.
"She put those children first. That's all she ever talked about," a friend, Andrea Crowell, told The Associated Press. "She wanted to do her best for them, to teach them something new every day."
There was also 6-year-old Emilie Parker, whose grieving father, Robbie, talked to reporters not long after police released the names of the victims but expressed no animosity, offering sympathy for Lanza's family.