Hundreds of mourners gathered Wednesday for a funeral for five young children who died earlier this month in a horrific fire that devastated a New Jersey community.
Inside the church, a group of priests blessed five white caskets that were topped with dolls and action figures, NJ.com reported.
“When it most hurts, you shall love your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength,” the Rev. Trinidad Cuevas told the gathering at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Union City, the news site reported. “With everything even though you shall suffer.”
“When it most hurts, you shall love your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength. With everything even though you shall suffer.”
Authorities identified the fire victims as Jason Gonzalez, 2; Shamira Lopez, 4; Mayli Wood, 5; Cristian Josue Mendez, 7; and Jose Felip Tejada, 13.
All were siblings, except Mayli, who was their cousin, NJ.com reported, adding that the children were asleep when the blaze began.
The five-alarm fire struck the morning of July 13 in an apartment building in Union City, just across the Hudson River from New York City.
After Wednesday’s service, police and firefighters helped escort the caskets out of the church to the sound of bagpipes.
A man and a woman were injured in the fire and were recovering.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation.
Union City is covering the cost of the funerals.
“To say the city is heartbroken is an understatement,” Union City Mayor Brian Stack told NorthJersey.com last week. “The loss of five children is beyond devastating and it is our charge to rally around these families and offer our support."
“To say the city is heartbroken is an understatement. The loss of five children is beyond devastating and it is our charge to rally around these families and offer our support."
A GoFundMe page was set up to raise funds for the victims’ families. As of late Wednesday, it had raised more than $49,000 toward a goal of $50,000.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.