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Hundreds mourn Stephanie Parente at her college

BALTIMORE - The mourners kept coming. They stood and sat, in pews, on chairs, in the balcony, on the ground, and eventually on the altar itself.

Hundreds came, students and professors, parents and staff, taking up every last space in Alumni Memorial Chapel at Loyola College Tuesday night.

They came to mourn one of their own, Stephanie Parente, a bubbly sophomore that everyone seemed to know or know of.

They came to pray for her family, even the one responsible for her death.

Parente, her parents and 11-year-old sister, Catherine, all of Garden City - were found dead in a hotel room at the Sheraton in Towson on Monday in what police are calling a murder-suicide.

"For all the young souls that left this world too early, that they may live an everlasting life as guiding angels," said Stephanie Nguyen, Parente's roommate, reading a prayer at the Mass.

"For Betty and William, the devoted parents of Catherine and Stephanie, that they may be eternally in peace...," read another roommate.

And then a prayer for Stephanie, from a third roommate, that she be "peaceful and happy" with her family in heaven.

Sobs broke in the chapel. Students clung to one another. A baby cried.

The Rev. Brian Linnane, president of the college, presided over the Mass, expressing grief and confusion at the tragic events that brought them together.

"Whatever we can say about the passing of Stephanie and her parents and her sister, she did not die alone or unloved," he said.

"I have no doubt that the person who harmed her, loved her, despite a terrible thing that was done," he said.

Students held hands, tears streaming down their faces, as they sang "Lord of All Hopelessness" and "You Are Mine." Parente's crew jacket and other mementos were brought to the altar.

In his homily, Linnane confessed to also "feeling at sea."

"It is quite legitimate. . .to feel shaken, to feel, 'What's it all about, if this could happen, what could it possibly mean?'"

The answer, he said, lies in their faith.

"Resurrection, if it is to be real, is to be experienced now," he said.

"This is the task that our faith has prepared us for," he added. "To trust that sense of newness of life that I assure you will come."


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