Minnesota Cities Unite in Prayer

From left, Lazaro Vences, Ana Maria Flores, Reyna Garcia Vences and Elfego Vences Sr. at Mass at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Minneapolis on Sunday. The Vences and Flores children were in a school bus on Interstate 35W when the bridge collapsed. All 50 children on the bus escaped to safety.
From left, Lazaro Vences, Ana Maria Flores, Reyna Garcia Vences and Elfego Vences Sr. at Mass at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Minneapolis on Sunday. The Vences and Flores children were in a school bus on Interstate 35W when the bridge collapsed. All 50 children on the bus escaped to safety. (By Kiichiro Sato -- Associated Press)
By Vicki Smith
Associated Press
Monday, August 6, 2007

MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 5 -- Across the Twin Cities the prayers rose up Sunday -- in Spanish, Greek and English.

Prayers of peace for grieving families. Prayers of strength for those still searching the Mississippi River. And prayers of gratitude from those who were spared.

At St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, an estimated 1,400 people gathered Sunday night for an interfaith service that included responsive readings and singing by the church choir.

"We're here to begin the process of restoration," said Gov. Tim Pawlenty. "We are also here to begin the rebuilding process."

Some in the crowd hugged and wiped tears from their eyes as speakers remembered the dead and missing. Religious leaders offered prayers from the Bible and the Koran.

The Rev. Peg Chemberlin told audience members that although they "shared anger and anguish," the city had rallied in crisis.

"It's important that we stand together and say, 'Minnesota, your heart is full of courage and compassion,' " Chemberlin said. "The heroes in this moment, like the tears, are many."

In a leafy St. Paul neighborhood, about 70 parishioners gathered at St. George Greek Orthodox Church to ask for the recovery of Christine Sacorafas, one of eight people missing since the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed Wednesday.

Her cousin, Michelle Berge, stood quietly and alone in the back row as the Rev. Richard Demetrius Andrews asked God for compassion and comfort.

"And we ask you, Lord, to return Christine to her family and her community," he said.

"We don't know where she is," Andrews said at the conclusion of the service. "There has been no word. As far as I know, they have not even found her car. This is a very agonizing time for the family -- not knowing her status. Not knowing if she's alive, not knowing if she's injured or how badly."

Sacorafas, 45, of White Bear Lake, was headed to teach a Greek folk-dancing class when she got caught in a traffic jam. She called a fellow teacher minutes before the collapse and has not been heard from since.


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