"Our God is totally unpredictable," Whatley said. "Prayer is always effective; however, we never know in what manner the effectiveness will be displayed. This little girl right now is very critically ill.

"Our existence on this Earth is temporary. If Teresa loses this battle, she has won the victory of her life."

The family, friends and neighbors gathered for the vigil, recited the rosary, sang "On Eagles' Wings" and prayed for the child who donated his or her heart to Teresa.

In the back of the chapel, a prayer banner with 11 ribbons to signify each of the Bartlinskis was signed with personal messages, such as "Praying & hoping" and "Your strength and spirit inspires us."

Brigid Fischer and her daughter Addie, 12, came to the service to show "our hearts" are with the Bartlinskis.

"They are an inspiring family in the way they live their faith," Brigid Fischer said. "It gives us real perspective on what's really important."

Sheila Wheltle came to the vigil with her husband, Ray. "Everyone felt a sense of helplessness that we couldn't do anything more for them, and we just needed to come together in prayer," she said.

Denise Campbell, a family friend of the Bartlinskis for decades, said the vigil was a remarkable display of support. "This entire community has fallen in love with this little girl. One tiny body has impacted so many people, and what we learned through her spirit, strength and resilience is something we will all be able to take away with us."

ywenger@baltsun.com

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To help

A nonprofit group, "Believe In Miracles," was established to take donations to help cover Teresa's medical expenses.

To contribute, send donations to Believe In Miracles, P.O. Box 21199, Catonsville, Md., 21228.