East Windsor Comes Together for Candlelight Service for Newtown

Despite cold and rain Monday night, more than 200 residents came to honor the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims.

On Monday night, as people stood temporarily in the cold and rain in front of the East Windsor Town Hall, they were silent.

Some had come to grieve alone; others were seeking comfort in a large group. All were trying to understand why the horrific events of Dec. 14 had happened in Newtown, in Connecticut.

With more than 200 people coming out on the raw night to honor the memory of the lives lost at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 elementary school children and six educators were killed, the group was quietly escorted from the Town Hall by local first responders to nearby St. Catherine's church. 

Once inside, every pew was filled, with some left to stand in the back as First Selectwoman Denise Menard welcomed everyone.

Children of all ages attended and watched how their community and more closely their families dealt with a loss that has reverberated throughout the nation and world.

"This is a time to honor Newtown parents and students; those who died but also those who survived," Menard said.

Rev. Paul Gotta offered several prayers during the service, and lay-minister Olivia Johnson followed by reading scripture.

It was The Rev. Thomas Calderone, of the First Congregational Church of East Windsor, who asked out loud what everyone was thinking: "What motivates a person to do such a thing?" 

"I [don't think] he knew what he was doing," was the pastor’s answer for what may have caused shooter Adam Lanza to go into the elementary school. Prior to going the school, the shooter killed his mother at her house. Lanza turned his weapon on himself at the school.

Then Calderone asked the other question many people have on their minds: "Why did God allow this to happen?" 

Calderone's answer to that much harder question was that assigning blame to anyone else but the perpetrator doesn't make sense.

"God is not responsible for our actions - we are responsible for our actions," he said. 

The service ended with everyone singing "Amazing Grace."

According to Menard, members of the East Windsor Police Department will be helping in Newtown this week as the first of the 20 funerals for the children killed are held. The local officers will be assisting with traffic control so members of the Newtown Police Department attend the funeral services.


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