About 140 students, faculty, staff and community members gathered at the University of Richmond's Cannon Memorial Chapel on a sunny but somber Monday morning to remember Jamie and Paige Malone.
The prayer service, which lasted just more than 30 minutes, coincided with the funeral for the young women in their hometown of Floral Park, NY. Rev. Craig Kocher, the chaplain at the University, led the service.
"Jamie and Paige were faithful Catholics and this service will reflect some elements of that tradition," Kocher said. "The scriptures that we will read here are the same passages being read at the service in Floral Park, and the prayers are the kind of prayers that will be offered there."
Following his opening remarks, Kocher invited those in attendance to come forward and light one of hundreds of small candles, which were placed in front of two larger candles in memory of Jamie and Paige. Nearly everyone in attendance lit a candle over a period of about ten minutes, as "Dona Nobis Pacem" played on the chapel's piano.
Chaplain Kate O'Dwyer Randall then read two scriptures before leading the crowd in a litany of remembrance, during which those in attendance responded "we remember them," after each sentence.
Following a musical interlude and the offering of group prayers, Kocher invited those in attendance to exit through a side door, where they were each given a daisy to place in a memorial fountain just outside of the church.
"[The daisy] is not only a sign of hope for new life, but it is also the flower of Westhampton College," Kocher said. Westhampton College is the traditional name for the women's college at the University of Richmond.
After the service, many went back to their offices or dormitories on campus, while some stayed by the memorial pool to reflect.
"Paige was my year and I'm from Long Island where they're from," said Laura Zemcik, a rising junior from King's Park, N.Y. "Even before I came to college, I met them. Their parents had us over to talk about Richmond and everything. They were just great people."
Most of the students in attendance knew Jamie and Paige personally, while others didn't, including Daniel Bidwell, who graduated from Richmond along with Jamie in May.
"Even though I didn't know them, they were part of the Richmond community," Bidwell said. "I thought it was the right thing to do; to go to the service and be a part of the Richmond community, even in just a small way.
"I thought it was respectful," Bidwell said of the service. "It had some beautiful elements, especially with the candles and the daisies. ... It was a very difficult thing for anybody to try to do, but I thought it was very well done."
Many students who knew the Malones and were on campus during the summer made the roughly eight-hour drive to Long Island for the funeral service, O'Dwyer Randall said.
In Floral Park, hundreds of mourners filled Our Lady of Victory Church, and scores more gathered in the streets, as speakers allowed those outside to hear the service. Rain fell during the service, but those outside stayed through it, according to the New York Daily News.
For those who didn't make the trip, the prayer service allowed them to pay their respects and grieve.
"I decided to come because there were just a lot of similarities," said Kate Dochelli, another recent graduate. "Jamie was my resident and I was her [resident assistant]. ... They were just always really friendly. Jamie was supposed to move back to Richmond like I just did, and it just hit really close to home."
O'Dwyer Randall noted that this ceremony was meant only as a vigil during the grieving period and not as a memorial service. A full memorial service is currently being planned for the end of August, when the fall semester begins and most students return to campus.
In addition to the campus-wide prayer service, the Richmond Flying Squirrels Double-A baseball team will observe a moment of silence before its game on Monday night.
Notable attendees at the prayer service included University of Richmond Provost Steve Allred, Westhampton College Dean Juliette Landphair, Richmond College Dean Joe Boehman, and Jepson School of Leadership Studies Dean Sandra Peart. Joanne Kong from the music department played the piano during the service.
Contact staff writer Reilly Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org
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