A large crowd gathered at St. Joseph Catholic Church on Tuesday when a special Candlelight Mass of Angels service was offered to remember five young parishioners who were killed in a fatal car accident last Monday.
The Mass was celebrated by the pastor of St. Joseph, Rev Denzil Vithanage.
The children, ages 2 through 13, were among 12 people riding an SUV on their way to a Canton water park. They were going westbound from Marshall on I-20 when a tire blew out, causing the driver to lose control and roll over near the exit ramp at FM 16.
Nine passengers were not wearing their seatbelts and were thrown out of the GMC Envoy. The children who died have been identified as Rosvaelia Jaimes, 13; Omar Jaimes, 7; Saideth Acuna, 6; Ulisa Acuna, 3; and Judith Jaimes, 2.
“Truly this is a very sad day for our St. Joseph’s Catholic Church family because we lost the precious lives of five children,” Father Vithanage said before the service.
The crowd overflowed outside of the sanctuary onto the doorsteps. “This evening we come together in this sacred place to pray for our precious children, who experienced this tragic death,” Vithanage told the crowd.
“There is no doubt, the entire St. Joseph family is mourning, but we are strong in faith; we are strong in one body and heart and we share each other’s burden,” he said. “We say, ‘Lord, in your hands, we commit these young children.”
“We understand your pain.”
The church asks the community to pray for the grieving families and pray for the recovery of those who were injured.
Three other children were hospitalized, identified as Alexis Jaimes, Uriel Jaimes and Richard Torres Acuna.
The driver, Federico Acuna, and a 15-year-old were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident and were not injured. Also injured were Acuna’s wife, 34-year-old Estela Acuna, , and her sister, 24-year-old Elida Jaimes.
Tax deductible donations to assist the families with funeral and medical costs can be made out to St. Joseph Catholic Charities, and sent to the church’s address at 410 North Alamo Blvd., Marshall, Texas 75670. Call (903) 935-2536 for more details.