NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) – A season that should be a time of joy has been marked by heart-wrenching loss in Newtown as more victims from the massacre of 20 children and six adults are laid to rest.
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The funerals for four students and two teachers were held Thursday — Jesse Lewis, Catherine Hubbard, Benjamin Wheeler and Allison Wyatt, all 6 years old, and teachers Anne Marie Murphy and Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau.
In Newtown, grim-faced mourners hurried through the packed parking lot of St. Rose of Lima Church for Catherine’s funeral.
Catherine’s family said in her obituary that she would be remembered for “her passion for animals and her constant smile.” Her family asked that donations be made to the Newtown Animal Center.
Also in Newtown, Trinity Episcopal church was filled to capacity for Benjamin’s funeral and scores of mourners who couldn’t get in milled about outside on a chilly day.
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The service for a child described as a lighthouse buff, budding musician and Beatles fan included a rendition of “Here Comes The Sun” and the hymn “Amazing Grace.”
Benjamin’s five uncles acted as pallbearers. About two dozen Boy Scout leaders lined the front pathway to the church in honor of the former Cub Scout.
In Katonah, Cardinal Timothy Dolan told mourners at Murphy’s funeral that the 52-year-old teacher “brought together a community, a nation, a world, now awed by her own life and death.”
Murphy’s father, Hugh McGowan, said authorities told him that she died trying to protect her young pupils.
About 15 people arrived at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in a yellow school bus with “Newtown” written on its side. The church quickly filled and about 100 mourners waited outside.
Dolan said Murphy “reminds us of Jesus” because she was sacrificed her life for her friends.
“Annie’s life and death brings light, truth, goodness, and love to a world often shrouded in darkness, evil, selfishness and death,” Dolan said.
Dolan decided to preach at Murphy’s funeral “to express his support for all who lost their lives in Newtown and their families,” Archdiocese of New York spokesman Joseph Zwilling said. “Just being present, even in our silence, we can make that silence a prayer.”
In Danbury, mourners filed into the ornate white-pillared First Congregational Church in for a memorial service for teacher Lauren Rousseau.
The congregation in the packed church sang “Morning Has Broken” and “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”
Friends wept on the altar as they remembered the spirited, hardworking, sunny-natured young woman who loved children and animals, especially cats, and who had always wanted to be a teacher. They spoke of how the 30-year-old brightened their lives with her silliness and gave them all nicknames.
Rousseau’s boyfriend Tony Lusardi said the year he spent with her was the best of his life.
“I want the world to know Lauren was a great person. She touched the lives of everyone she ever met – even if you only met her once you liked her,” said Lusardi. “She was a great person and she didn’t deserve this — no one deserved this.”
Rousseau, who always wanted to be a teacher, was a substitute for the regular teacher who was on maternity leave.
1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports
As services for victims of Friday’s mass shooting continue, the symbol of Christmas has taken on a new meaning in Newtown, where one memorial featured 26 Christmas trees – one for each victim at the school.
Edward Kish said he bought a Christmas tree two days before the shooting but hasn’t had the heart to put it up or decorate it.
“I’ll still put it up, probably,” he said. “It doesn’t seem right, and it doesn’t seem like Christmas.”
More services are set for Sandy Hook victims Friday and Saturday.
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