By Michael Gold
On the quiet Monday night of November 18th, a group of a few dozen gathered outside St. Paul’s Church in Pawtucket to celebrate the lives of John Gauthier and Peter Weaver. Peers, clergy, advocates, and friends joined in prayer and song to remember John, who passed away on September 16th, and Peter, who left us on October 3rd.
As the sun dipped below the horizon, Officer Jimmy Winters opened with a hymn. The sound of the generator failed to distract from his powerful voice and song, while attendees passed around paper programs printed with pictures and memories of John and Peter.
Reverend Greta Getlein, Vicar of St. Paul’s, led the services and reflected on the importance of caring for the homeless community. She offered her thanks for all who attended and led a prayer for John and Peter’s remembrance.
After a moment of silence, Bill Chamberlain, of the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project (RIHAP), took the microphone. “Even though I didn’t know them personally, Peter and John are brothers to me,” said Bill. “All of us who have been on the streets are brothers,” he added, “and I will miss them dearly.”
Sara Melucci, a Social Worker at the House of Hope CDC, and Barbara Freitas, of RIHAP, then passed out candles. The vigil-goers attempted to keep the candles lit, but the wind proved too much. While some of the attendees struggled with their lighters and wicks, Officer Winters led a closing hymn, and then the group dispersed into the night.
John Gauthier was killed during a fatal hit-and-run on Interstate 95 South.
Peter Weaver died after he was hit by a car on Interstate 195 West.
Photos Courtesy Of Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project