The Rev. Sean Connor’s eyes burned with tears as he stared at the small sign temporarily marking the grave of his close friend, Brian Smith, a 45-year-old priest who died of colon cancer weeks after diagnosis. It had a picture of the young cleric and an inscription echoing his favorite catchphrase: “Isn’t God so good?”
Connor buried him in June, in the pouring rain. Two days later, he said the memorial Mass for Martin Richard, a parishioner and the youngest victim of the Marathon bombings, on what would have been the boy’s ninth birthday. The 47-year-old priest had spent much of the spring shuttling between hospitals, caring for Martin’s devastated family and for his own dying friend.