Students in Suzanne Volkmuth’s kindergarten class color their daily work as they wait for school prayers to start.
Kindergartner Aiyanna Watson says she prays at school and night. She presses the palms of her hands together and recites, "Now I lay me down to sleep. ..."
After morning announcements, Volkmuth and aide Kathy Ortiz lead the class in praying Pope Francis' five-fingered prayer: the thumb is for prayers for family, the index finger is for teachers and helpers, the middle finger is for leaders and the ring finger is for the weak.
The small and humble pinkie reminds children to pray for themselves -- we always need prayers, Volkmuth says.
Crowds gathering to pray at St. Christopher Church overflow into the foyer.
People have come to support each other and sing hymns as they grieve Debbie Milgate-Moyer, 57, who died Oct. 31.
Long before her leukemia diagnosis, Milgate-Moyer had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help sick children at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital through golf tournaments and galas in memory of her brother, who was murdered, and her nephew, who was killed in a car crash.
Often she wore a shirt that read "Cancer picked the wrong diva" and planned a bone marrow drive while undergoing treatments. At her funeral, Father Robert Gaudio, pastor, says Milgate-Moyer was spirited and spiritual.
"One of the things she so deeply prayed for was that she would be healed," he says. "That’s what was on her heart, and that’s why she underwent all that pain and suffering (of cancer treatments)."
Her husband, Rick Moyer, sums up the loss family and friends feel.
"Now she’s gone, and we have a huge hole in our lives," he says. "It’s not fair and it’s not right and we don’t know what to do. But Deb showed us what to do."
When confronting tragedy, he notes, his wife always helped others.