Inside the church, cousin Gina McDaniel described Ritzer as the daughter who every parent hopes their child will become when they grow up. She said Ritzer’s love for teaching was second only to her love for her family.
“Her heart and soul were encompassed in her family,” McDaniel said.
But it was teaching where Ritzer especially shined, McDaniel said, becoming a mentor to her students in just the first few years of her career. McDaniel said the effect her cousin had can be seen in how people have bonded together to commemorate and celebrate her life.
“(She) made people feel loved, comforted and optimistic,” McDaniel said. “Colleen’s grace made her life fulfilling. In such a short period of time, one person has made a world of difference.”
Fr. Gori's homily highlighted Ritzer’s inclination “to see the good in people, especially her students,” Gori said. “She enjoyed them and respected them; she cared about them and she cared for them; she loved them.”
In addition to Gallagher, the visiting clergy included Bishop Peter Uglietto of the North Region of the Archdiocese of Boston, where Danvers High School is located. He represented the sympathy of Cardinal Sean O’Malley.
“To say that there’s a lot of heartache in that church right now is an understatement,” Terry Donilon, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston, told the bevy of media, who watched from outside the church at the request of the family. “But we call it a celebration of life, and that’s what this will be.”
Other speakers included Ritzer’s best friend since childhood, Jennifer Berger, who did one of the readings, and her mentor, Laura Fogerty, who provided the universal prayer. The responsorial psalm, Psalm 42, had the congregation repeating, “My soul is thirsting for the living God; when shall I see him face to face?” Her aunts made the presentation of offerings for the full Catholic Mass.