Friends and family gather for Colleen Ritzer's funeral
ANDOVER, Mass. (WHDH) -- Monday morning, friends and family gathered outside St. Augustine church in Andover for Colleen Ritzer's funeral.
The young woman's mother, father, sister, and brother were supported by 1,000 mourners.
Teachers from both Danvers High School and Andover High School lined the church steps. About 400 Danvers High School students were bused in for the funeral mass.
“Our lives are shattered. Could you imagine the immediate family,” said Joe Spanos, Ritzer’s former teacher.
Hundreds turned-out for calling hours yesterday, many wearing pink ribbons - Ritzer's favorite color.
Ritzer was a math teacher at Danvers High School.
Her friends say she had a true passion for teaching and they'll always remember her for her positive outlook on life.
“It was an ocean of sadness inside this church. It was quite palpable for reasons that are not difficult to understand,” said Fr. Dennis Gallagher, Assumption College.
Her student, 14-year-old Phillip Chism is charged with her murder.
Police say he stabbed her with a box cutter and left her body in the woods outside the school.
Colleen's cousin gave eulogy, reminding the grieving audience of everything Colleen stood for and valued. Sharing one of Colleen's favorite sayings that reads, "no matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind."
“We care for people who are hurting and we take care of those who are sick and so this family is very brave,” said Terry Donilon, Archdiocese of Boston.
The sheer number of people who came to pay their respects is just one more example of how this 24-year-old math teacher was able to do that.
“Salt of the earth. The most non-violent person gets attacked in the most violent way. We need to step up, you know, what are we doing within our households? The Ritzer family did it right, brought their kids up the way we should. We lose the salt of the earth. She was a little angel and she is gone,” said Spanos.
During his remarks the pastor told everyone to ask themselves not how or why did Colleen die but rather to ask themselves how or why did Colleen live.