Some 750 people filled the pews of Waukesha, Wisconsin’s St. William’s Catholic Church Monday evening to pray for the victims of the city’s Christmas Parade tragedy a day earlier. St. William’s is one of four churches making up Waukesha’s Catholic community.
“The room stirred with worry, confusion and mourning. Some attendees knelt silently in prayer, and others murmured quietly to one another about who was missing, who had been hurt, and had they heard anything about Father Pat?” as a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described the scene.
The pastor, Fr. Matthew Widder, announced that one of the priests who serves the Catholic community of Waukesha, Fr. Patrick Heppe, had been discharged from the hospital that afternoon and recovering well. Fr. Heppe was one of many members of the Catholic community at the parade, including more than 50 who were involved in the parade itself and many others as spectators. Five people were killed, and scores injured when the driver of an SUV sped through the parade route November 21. An eight-year-old boy has since died of his injuries.
The parade is an annual event that takes place just before Thanksgiving.
Fr. Heppe suffered a concussion and spent Sunday night in hospital. Fifteen parishioners were hospitalized after the parade, and seven remain in hospital, Monica Cardenas, director of communication and stewardship at the parish, said in a statement.
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