New England prayer service to be held for missing coupleHopes to find survivors aboard a luxury cruise ship that capsized off the coast of Italy two weeks ago are dwindling, officials said, but former classmates of a missing Minnesota couple are keeping the two in their prayers.
Hopes to find survivors aboard a luxury cruise ship that capsized off the coast of Italy two weeks ago are dwindling, officials said, but former classmates of a missing Minnesota couple are keeping the two in their prayers.
“We have to assume they are not going to be found alive anymore, but you can’t help but keep hoping,” New England resident Carol Robinson said Friday.
Gerald and Barbara Heil of White Bear Lake, Minn., were on board the Costa Concordia cruise ship that struck a reef near Tuscany on Jan. 13. Gerald, 69, and Barbara, 70, are among the 16 people missing and are the only Americans missing from the tragedy.
Family members are in Italy awaiting news from the search team. They have also started a blog, called Heil Family Update, to report any updates on the search.
The Heils graduated from St. Mary’s High School in New England in 1959. The class was close-knit, and Barbara sent some of them Christmas letters every year.
A prayer service and vigil will be held for the missing couple 7 p.m. Tuesday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, said Robinson, a former classmate.
“You’re numb, you know, waiting and waiting,” she said. “I can’t even imagine what the family must be going through because they can’t seem to find anybody.”
Residents and classmates have been concerned and still remain hopeful they will be found, Robinson said.
Of the 4,200 passengers, authorities have recovered 16 bodies from wreck, according to the Associated Press. Officials have not released the identities of the bodies found. Officials said those missing are presumed dead.
Geneva Steier of Dickinson also graduated with the Heils. The Heils’ classmates continue to ask each other if they have heard any breakthroughs in the search.
“All we can do know is just wait and pray and hopefully that the family has some closure soon,” she said.
Family members wrote on the blog Wednesday that efforts to find Gerald and Barbara have been “undoubtedly” a slow process, stating “We so badly want Mom and Dad to be found so we can bring them home.” The family continues to monitor dives made at the wreck site.
View the blog at heilfamilyupdate.word