Dorchester neighbors of Richard family tune in to interfaith prayer service

About a half mile from the home of the 8-year-old boy who died in Monday’s bombings, Mary O’Brien watched Thursday’s televised interfaith service from her home.

The tears that have come so often over the past few days came again as she listened to speeches, including by the mayor and President Obama.

“I don’t understand how people can get up in that kind of a situation and give speeches like that without breaking down,” said O’Brien, 53, while on a mid-afternoon walk around the Dorchester neighborhood she’s lived in her whole life.

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Standing on Carruth Street about a block from the Richard family’s home, O’Brien said she does not know the family. But, she belongs to the same church that the family goes to, St. Ann Parish.

“It’s just a community that pulls together,” she said. “That’s who we are.”

O’Brien said Thursday’s service and Obama’s visit to Boston have been helpful in the healing process as have other shows of support, like the community vigil she went to Tuesday night for the Richard family.

She said it was touching “to see that many people come out,” to pray and think of the family.

She said Monday’s attacks are yet another painful reminder of how “you’re never really safe anywhere anymore. You just never know.”

“It’s not just a Boston thing. It’s not just a national thing,” she added. “This affects the whole world.”

Many neighbors declined to speak to Thursday. Some asked that reporters leave their neighborhood. In a statement issued earlier this week, the family asked for privacy.

On Thursday, Boston police officers continued to guard an area in front of the family’s home to keep media and others away.

A memorial for Martin Richard, 8, was set up at the Peabody Square intersection a few blocks from his family’s home. There were balloons, stuffed animals, flowers, candles photos and newspapers placed there.

Parked several feet from the memorial, a man sat in a car listening to Thursday’s interfaith service on the radio.

The Rev. Philip C. Jacobs III, rector at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Canton, came to Boston to attend the interfaith service. He and his wife parked at an Episcopal church in Dorchester, about a block from where the Richard family lives, and then rode the T to get to the service.

Across the street from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End, where the service was held, Jacobs’ wife, Phebe, tripped on the sidewalk and fell, injuring her face and leg.

The couple watched the service from TVs inside the emergency room at Tufts Medical Center. Still, they said they were moved by the speeches and the service itself.

“I think it’s something the city needed,” said Philip Jacobs. “It hurts deeply that something like this has happened. I think we all feel very badly.”

“The mind that would do this defies comprehension,” he added, referring to the person or persons behind the bombings.

But, Jacobs said he is confident that next year’s Marathon will vividly demonstrate the city’s strength.

“I have no doubt that the Marathon will run again next year and that many people who’ve never bothered to attend will be there standing at the finish line,” he said.

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