They gathered yesterday at St. Augustine Catholic Church to mourn a death, but also to celebrate a life. About 450 people, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder, filled the two wide rows of pews running down the center of the church.

There was the family of Clarine Collier-Wilson, her friends and neighbors, and the classmates of her older daughter.

There were a few elected officials and a large number of people who did not know of her until she was killed on the street last Tuesday, but who nonetheless were compelled to come out on a chilly, rainy morning for her memorial service.

According to witnesses, a man asked Collier-Wilson for money and then stabbed the woman, who worked as an office manager in the District, once in the chest. She was walking toward her home in Adams-Morgan with her two daughters, carrying the younger girl in her arms.

Ward 1 D.C. Council member Frank Smith Jr., who represents Collier-Wilson's neighborhood, said in his remarks at the memorial service that he was especially outraged by the attack on a mother with her children. Jesse L. Jackson, newly elected shadow senator for the District, spoke of the underlying social causes that have produced what he called "street terror."

"Something died in that killer first," he said.

After the service, Collier-Wilson's sister, Janis Collier, said she didn't object to this public sharing of the family's mourning. The attention, she said, could help police capture her sister's killer.

Michael J. Kelley, associate pastor at St. Augustine, in his homily yesterday, said, "Clarine was someone filled with God's light."

He told of how Collier-Wilson always walked her daughter Kamilla, 10, up the stairs to her second-floor classroom in the mornings, gave the fifth-grader a hug and told her, "I love you." Kamilla attends a school affiliated with the church.

He also spoke of how Collier-Wilson, who recently had served as a chaperone on a school field trip, participated in school activities.

Kamilla is now an orphan. Her father died last year in California. Her sister, Pareece, 3, spent much of the time at the memorial service on the lap of her father, her head resting on his shoulder.

Kelley asked those there "to give God thanks and praise for letting Cecey into our life . . . . She lives in her children, her family, her friends {and} in the community."

Joanne McCarthy, a friend of Collier-Wilson's, asked people to remember "the love, the smile, the compassion. That's what Cecey was all about."

About 30 of Kamilla's classmates attended the service, and toward the end, a few of the children began sobbing.

A vigil is scheduled at 6:30 tonight at Lanier Place and Harvard Street NW, where Collier-Wilson was stabbed.