WORCESTER (CBS) — The hymn Amazing Grace filled St. John’s Catholic Church in Worcester Saturday morning. The church was filled with hundreds of firefighters, friends, and family of fallen firefighter Christopher Roy for his funeral.
As hundreds of firefighters stood to watch, Roy’s casket was carried inside around 9:30 a.m. His casket made its way from the funeral home on Fire Engine 5 — the same truck he rode Sunday to the Lowell Street blaze where he died.
All Worcester firefighters were able to attend the funeral. Twenty-five towns and 80 firefighters took over calls for the Worcester Fire Department, allowing the Worcester firefighters to focus on grieving.
Worcester Fire Chief Michael Lavoie read the first reading. Three fellow firefighters read small eulogies.
“The job of a firefighter is not something just anybody can do. This job is truly a calling. It takes a special kind of person, someone with a huge heart, a person of character, and of course a person of great compassion. All of those attributes just explained Roy to a T. He was a selfless man and he cared so much about the people around him,” said Stephen McGurn.
“We didn’t call him Chris though, we always called him Roy. I vividly remember the first time meeting Roy, it was freshman year at St. Peter’s and we were doing summer sessions [of football practice], some heading drills we in effect and I was new at the school, so I lined myself up with the biggest badest guy I saw on the other side, Roy. We hit each other as hard as we could, knocked each other down, and on my way up I kind of gave him a little shove back down. He didn’t like that. He said ‘hey pal, try not to stuff after the whistle’ but I remember him grinning at me and I knew we were friends,” Sean Sulivan said.
“We all should consider ourselves blessed for having gotten to know Roy and bringing him joy throughout his life as he did to ours. Even though his life was cut way too short, he will always be with us in our hearts and looking down on us with his infectious smile. I know there is a void that will never be filled, we will all stick together as friends and family, we will never let his memory die. We love you Roy, you will be sorely missed for the rest of our lives. Love you brother,” said David Scavone.
Roy’s nine-year-old daughter Ava sat in the first row among family.
Worcester Firefighters IAFF Local 1009 has established a fund to benefit her. Checks made out to the AVA ROY FUND can be mailed to the Worcester Fire Department Credit Union at 34 Glennie St., Worcester, MA 01605.
Lt. Michael Papagni spoke of the long-standing tradition firefighters have with bells. Hundreds of years ago, the sound of a bell would symbolize the start of the day, a new alarm, and a comrade’s passing. “We utilize these traditions as symbols which reflect honor and respect on those who have given so much and who have served so well, to symbolize the devotion that these brave souls had for their duty,” he said. “To Christopher Roy, who selflessly gave his life for the good of his fellow man, his tasks completed, his duties well done. To our comrade, his last alarm. You are going home.”
Gov. Charlie Baker, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Sen. Ed Markey were also at the Mass.
Following the funeral, the casket was brought past each of Worcester’s fire stations before a burial at Notre Dame Cemetery.
It is estimated that 5,000 mourner’s attended calling hours on Friday.