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Sharing more memories of Sister Karen 1st anniversary of her murder observed at church

Sister Karen Klimczak was remembered by more than 300 people who packed into SS. Columba and Brigid Church on Saturday, the first anniversary of her death at the hands of a man she was trying to help.

The nun who inspired others to leave her trademark Peaceprints, who foresaw her violent death years before -- even writing a letter of forgiveness to her killer -- was remembered by the Rev. Roy T. Herberger, pastor of the church at Eagle and Hickory streets, who worked closely with her.

"The love in her heart knew no measure. She didn't have big feet, but her shoes are too big to fill," Herberger told those in the audience. "She was a heavyweight in life when it came to work and energy and in looking for ways to help others and to be a servant."

Her message lives on in the more than 5,000 dove-shaped peace signs her supporters have placed on their lawns, in windows of homes, schools, and offices, as well as on T-shirts and pins.

Viola Brice and Catherine Detmers were there at the memorial. When they think of Sister Karen, they think of service.

"She was just a beautiful person," said Detmers.

"She was particularly interested in helping other people," Brice added.

"That was her life," Detmers said.

Gregory Brice, director of Bissonette House, offered a prayer in her memory.

It was in the Bissonette halfway house, where Sister Karen had posted a sign noting the number of days since the last homicide in Buffalo, that she met her own death on Good Friday, April 14, 2006.

Craig M. Lynch, released from prison to the halfway house just nine days earlier, sneaked into Sister Karen's room to steal a cell phone so he could buy drugs. When Sister Karen walked in on him, he beat and strangled her.

The slaying occurred one floor above where Sister Karen's friend, the Rev. A. Joseph Bissonette, was beaten to death during a robbery in 1987. The halfway house is named in his honor.

Herberger asked those at the church to also remember Lynch, who is now serving 25 years to life in prison.

The cleric said he and Sister Karen's blood sister -- Sister Jean Klimczak -- visited Lynch after he was convicted of the slaying last December.

"Remember to pray for Craig Lynch as she would do," Herberger said, referring to Sister Karen.

Eleven-year-old Alexandria Lee recalled how Sister Karen helped her become an altar servant at the church.

"She was just a very sweet, kind person," Alexandria said. "She loved children."

At the end of the service, a group of young people wearing T-shirts with the trademark dove and "I Leave Peaceprints," sang a song by that name under the direction of Sister Jean. It was written by Buffalo resident David Granville.

e-mail: dswilliams@buffnews.com

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