NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — How can the families in Newtown Conn., who have suffered such loss begin to cope with the elementary school massacre?

As CBS 2’s Weijia Jang reported, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church was set to be open 24 hours, around the clock, until further notice, so people who live in the community can seek comfort anytime they need it.

The community was reeling after Adam Lanza, 20, opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, leaving 20 children and eight adults dead.

Newtown, Conn., residents continued to flock the local Roman Catholic Church throughout the day to pray and make sense of the massacre that took the lives of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school, as well as the gunman and his mother.

As 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported, Jeff Mubarek tightly clutched the hands of his children, Olivia and Tess, who attend Sandy Hook Elementary. On Saturday afternoon, they released 26 balloons into the sky.

“These are our Newtown colors, blue and gold,” he said. “The yellow balloons represent 20 lost lives of innocent little children, which is a horrific thing. The girls wanted to send these to heaven, to make sure that when they get there – if they’re not already there, that they can smile.”

1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck Reports

The 11-year-old twins could not believe some of their teachers have been taken from them.

“To know that some of your teachers who helped you prepare for life are gone – we loved them, and they’re gone,” the girls said.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell Reports

Outside the church, as well as inside on the altar, a candle for each of the 26 at the school victims burned Saturday morning. Twenty-eight people died in the attack in all, including the gunman’s mother, and the gunman himself, who took his own life.

PHOTOS: Shooting At Sandy Hook Elementary School

Heartsick mourners attended mass at the church at 8 a.m. The flag outside the church was at half staff.

Steve Howell, a grandfather, drove from Carmel, N.Y., bringing with him a white teddy bear.

He said he brought the stuffed animal “to try to bring a smile to some child’s face after all this hardship; just trying to make someone happy today.”

On Friday, the same church was filled to capacity as hundreds of people spilled outside, some of them holding hands in circles and saying prayers. Others lit prayer candles and sang “Silent Night.”

Lyrics of the last hymn of the ceremony rang out: “I will raise him up on eagle’s wings.”

The parish priest, Robert Weiss, said he spent much of Friday with victims of the families, but he could not give them any answers about what happened.

“I know that people say ‘Why did God allow this to happen?’ This was not the hand of God. This was the hand of a person who had issues,” Weiss told reporters, including CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

Credit WCBS 880 Reporter Peter Haskell

Credit WCBS 880 Reporter Peter Haskell

Words of comfort during the service also came from a world away — a letter from Pope Benedict XVI was read aloud.

“In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy, I ask God our Father to console all those who mourn and to sustain the entire community with the spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love,” Weiss read.

Governor Dannel Malloy was among the speakers at the service inside the St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic church.

“Many of us today and in the coming days will rely on what we have been taught and what we believe, that there is faith for a reason,” Malloy said.

There was also another vigil held at Newtown United Methodist Church on Friday night. Frederick Silva said he stopped by from two towns away to mourn with the community.

Many people in the community said they are afraid the horrible nightmare will get even worse if and when they realize they know someone who was affected.

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(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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