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Community gathers as crews search for Trenton priest, Grosse Ile man missing when boat capsizes

Authorities Monday released the names of two people who disappeared after a boat with at least nine aboard capsized Sunday off Stoney Island in the Detroit River.

Authorities search for two men who are missing after a boat capsized near Stoney Island in the Detroit River on the east side of Grosse Ile, Monday, August 17, 2020. The boat capsized Sunday night with at least 9 people aboard.

Officials said the two missing boaters are the Rev. Stephen Rooney,66, pastor of the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Trenton, and Robert Chiles, 52, of Grosse Ile and  the boat's owner. 

Divers and deputies with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office as well as Grosse Ile police resumed the search Monday for the two people.

Parishioners and others listen during a vigil for the Rev. Stephen Rooney and Rob Chiles at St. Joseph Catholic Church Parish Center in Trenton, Monday, August 17, 2020.

As the search continued, nearly 200 people gathered in the evening at Rooney's church for a vigil in the parking lot.

Worshipers, some in tears, hugged and bowed their heads in prayer and listened to praise songs as the sun set.

"It's to support the community," said Jeannie Denson, a Trenton resident. "It's extremely important in times of sorrow and peril."

Women hug during a vigil for the Rev. Stephen Rooney and Rob Chiles at St. Joseph Catholic Church Parish Center in Trenton, Monday, August 17, 2020.

Those who gathered described Rooney and Chiles as neighbors who welcomed others.

Tricia Mohr, who was active in the parish for about 15 years, recalled Rooney's presence.

"He always made you laugh," she said. "He served God with such joy. He was a great guy." 

The loss is difficult to grasp, Mohr said. "It's surreal."

The Rev. Stephen Rooney, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Trenton.

Officials with the Archdiocese of Detroit released news about Rooney and Chiles.

"It is with great sadness that we share that Father Stephen Rooney, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Trenton, is missing along with longtime parishioner Robert Chiles after a boat capsized yesterday evening in the Detroit River, off Stoney Island," a statement said. "We are grateful to God for the Good Samaritan who rescued several others from the water.

"Let us unite in prayer for the missing, for the rescued, and for first responders searching the waters today. At this time, we ask for privacy for the parish and the families of those involved. The Archdiocese will share more information as it becomes available."

Bishop Gerard Battersby, right, hugs the Rev. Brendan McCarrick of St. Vincent Pallotti in Wyandotte, after a vigil for the Rev. Stephen Rooney and Rob Chiles at St. Joseph Catholic Church Parish Center in Trenton, Monday, August 17, 2020.

On Sunday, Grosse Ile police said officers and the firefighters received a call about a capsized boat at 7:36 p.m. A person in a boat from Ontario helped rescue several of the nine people on board the capsized boat, officials said.

Authorities search for two men who are missing after a boat capsized near Stoney Island in the Detroit River on the east side of Grosse Ile, Monday, August 17, 2020. The boat capsized Sunday night with at least 9 people aboard.

The Sheriff’s Office said 12 people were on board, including seven youths and five adults. The two who are missing were among the adults on the boat.

The Canadian Coast Guard, assisted by a helicopter, also aided the searched for the men on Sunday. The Wayne County Sheriff’s dive team assisted Grosse Ile police, said Pageant Atterberry, the director of communications for the Sheriff's Office, on Sunday.

The boat was a 39-foot, 2017 Nor-Tech Center Console, according to Grosse Ile police.