Service Set For MN Couple Missing In Ship Disaster

Published February 6, 2012 12:45AM (EST)

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. (AP) — A memorial Mass has been scheduled for a Minnesota couple who are missing in the Italian cruise ship disaster, their family announced Sunday.

Jerry and Barbara Heil, of White Bear Lake, are the only Americans missing in the Jan. 13 wreck. Italian authorities called off the search for victims early last week due to the danger to rescue workers.

Their adult children issued a statement saying the memorial service is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, at St. Pius the X Catholic Church in White Bear Lake, where the Heils were deeply involved members.

Jerry Heil, 69, who retired from a job at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, taught religious education classes at the church while Barbara Heil, 70, handed out baked goods to class members. The couple joined the church in 1973, and their four children attended its elementary and middle school.

"We again would like to thank everyone for all the prayers, cards, and support you have shown us," the family said.

Some 4,200 passengers and crew were on board the Costa Concordia when it rammed a reef and flipped on its side. At least 17 people died. Fifteen people including the Heils are still listed as missing.

By Salon Staff

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