They came in soccer uniforms, bearing prom bouquets, photographs, signs and balloons in school colors.
They came to pray for Lacey Gallagher, an 18-year-old senior at Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls, who was killed early Saturday in an SUV crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike that injured six other young people after Little Flower's senior prom.
More than 500 mourners, most of them Little Flower students, packed the Holy Name of Jesus Church, at Berks and Gaul streets, Fishtown, last night to share a grief that was difficult to share.
Heavy sobs filled the church, and a fire-rescue wagon was called when a woman fainted. Gallagher's parents also collapsed when mourners left the church and formed a large circle outside to sing and pray. But they quickly recovered.
The soccer uniforms were worn in homage to the fact that Gallagher had been a standout member of the school soccer team, good enough to win an athletic scholarship to Chestnut Hill College, school officials said.
The Most Rev. Joseph P. McFadden, auxiliary bishop of the Philadelphia Archdiocese, spoke in a prayer to God, saying, "You're the one who gave Lacey to us as a gift."
Gallagher and the six other occupants were thrown from the 2001 Suzuki XL-7 on the turnpike in Milford Township, Bucks County, about 3 a.m.
The vehicle was heading north in the left lane when it struck the center cement barrier, and spun clockwise across the road. It then rolled over "numerous times" before coming to a stop on its roof, state police said.
Among the most seriously injured was Sean Monaghan, 17-year-old senior at Roman Catholic High School and an outstanding baseball player.
His coach, Joe Tremoglie, said Sean was driving the van and indications are that he fell asleep at the wheel.
There was no indication of alcohol or drug use, police said.
Apparently none of the occupants of SUV was wearing a seatbelt, the coach said.
Monaghan was in stable condition yesterday afternoon at St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem, where he was in the intensive-care unit. Two other victims were taken to Lehigh Valley Medical Center, police said.
Two of the other injured were identified as Katelynn Brooks, 18, and Patrick Shiffer, 19.
Sister Donna Shallo, president of Little Flower, said in a statement that the school community is devastated by the tragedy. "Lacey embodied the spirit of Little Flower with her love of athletics and her devotion to her family, friends and school," she said.
Little Flower High, at 10th and Lycoming streets, was open Saturday and yesterday for students who wanted to go to the chapel for comfort and prayer.
Counselors joined administrators to talk with students. Counselors also were to be on hand today.
Monaghan, a first-year varsity player at Roman, was enjoying a fine season and was described by Tremoglie as "one of my three best players."
Tremoglie said Saturday was traumatic for the team. "My players were calling me hysterical because they'd heard rumors Sean had passed away, or was left paralyzed," he said.
The team practiced yesterday, and the players, though "upset and concerned for Sean," voted to play today's Catholic South game against visiting Cardinal O'Hara.