HARRISON, N.Y. -- Nearly 200 people gathered in the heart of the village of Harrison Wednesday evening to remember Alissa and Deanna Hochman and pray that their family and the community can find peace.
Alissa, 17, and Deanna, 13, were murdered in their sleep on Saturday by their father, Glen, who then shot himself to death.
Father Christopher Monturo of St. Anthony of Padua Church asked those attending the vigil at Veterans Memorial Building to "give ourselves permission to obey and listen to our emotions, to our bodies."
"Give permission to ourselves to cry and remember a nice story,'' Monturo said, because "as your emotions flow from you, your spirit flows. Our emotions are stepping stones toward God. God is here with us tonight and he will be with us forever in the future."
Rabbi Eytan Hammerman of the Jewish Community Center said, "There's nothing to say at a time like this. Sometimes our silence shouts much louder than our words do."
Harrison High School Principal Steven Siciliano said that as educators "we get to share in many milestones. You let us into your lives.... It seems like we can't have the joy without the pain."
Siciliano said students paint rocks outside the high school in the memory of their friends. They brave the cold rain with candlelight vigils. "And they comfort each other with hugs, tears and when needed, silence and space. Ultimately it's going to be OK. You're safe and you're cared for,'' Siciliano said.
"Despite all the pain, love is at work in Harrison and at Harrison High School,'' Siciliano said. "While we grieve, please don't despair because tragedy does not define this community. Love does."
Deacon Holly Galgano of All Saints Episcopal Church offered a prayer for the Hochman family:"Heal their pain and dispel the darkness and doubt that come with grief."
Mayor Ron Belmont and Harrison Fire Chief William Nardozzi also spoke, and several songs were sung. "Bless forever those who have given their lives,'' Nardozzi said.
Monturo added, "It is beautiful tonight that we come together as a community -- since the last few days, many of us have been alone by ourselves -- bewildered. It is important that we gather together, not alone, as a community."
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