MINNEAPOLIS – People gathered to pray for the grieving families of eight people who have been missing since a highway bridge collapsed Wednesday.
The Sunday gatherings prayed for those still searching the Mississippi River, and said prayers of thanks for those who were spared. Five people were killed.
In a leafy neighborhood, about 70 parishioners at St. George Greek Orthodox Church asked for the recovery of Christine Sacorafas, one of the eight people missing.
"And we ask you, Lord, to return Christine to her family and her community," the Rev. Richard Demetrius said.
"We don't know where she is," Andrews said at the conclusion of the service. "There has been no word. As far as I know, they have not even found her car. This is a very agonizing time for the family, not knowing her status. Not knowing if she's alive, not knowing if she's injured or how badly."
Sacorafas, 45, was headed to teach a Greek folk dancing class when she got caught in a traffic jam. She called a fellow teacher minutes before the collapse and has not been heard from since.
About 100 people were injured when the concrete and steel Interstate 35W bridge abruptly gave way in rush-hour traffic, sending dozens of vehicles and tons of debris into the river.
At Holy Rosary Church, the faithful thanked God for the "angels" who rescued 50 terrified children from a school bus when the span collapsed.
Some of those children sat in the first few rows, then laid bouquets of flowers at a candlelit shrine to the Virgin Mary.
"The thing I always think about is if we were seconds ahead or seconds behind, we could've been under the bridge or in the water. It makes me feel lucky I'm still alive," said Elfego Vences Jr., 16, who was on the bus with his 13-year-old brother and 12-year-old sister.
He could not sleep for several nights afterward.
"It was the scariest thing. ... It felt like the end of the world," he said.
The Rev. Jim Barnett said the church considers the survival of its children a miracle, and that the service was designed in part to help them heal.
"Some of the kids are still hurting. An awful lot are confused," he said.
Holy Rosary held a funeral Saturday for produce salesman Artemio Trinidad-Mena, 29, who was taking the bridge home from work. After widow Abundia Martinez said goodbye to her husband, the church baptized her 2-month-old daughter.
The couple have three other children, ages 2 to 11, in their home state of Guerrero, Mexico.
Ahmed Sahal Iidle, father of Sadiya Sahal, a pregnant nursing student who along with her toddler daughter are among the eight missing, was joined by other Somali Muslims in brief prayers Sunday night at the Brian Coyle Community Center.
They prayed for the protection of the searchers and the speedy recovery of the missing. They also announced the Somali community will hold a public memorial service for all the victims Friday at the community center.
Songs and prayers were planned for a Sunday evening interfaith service at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, where money raised will be distributed to victims' families.
At St. Olaf Catholic Church, parishioners observed a moment of silence for both the victims and the recovery workers, who continued to search the dangerous, debris-filled water for bodies.