The crowd looked for answers and comfort from leaders of all sorts of religions. And some, like Lubna Hussain of Foster City, looked back with particular intensity. She can feel the scrutiny.
"I'll see people staring, but it's uncomfortable. I believe that our religion is a religion of peace," Hussain said.
In the context of such massive violence in Paris, a small gathering at Notre Dame de Namur University may seem like it can't possibly make a difference, but that is not the case for those with faith.
PHOTOS: Victims of Paris terror attacks
"We are facing the powers of darkness and the only thing that is going to overcome that is the power of love," said Sister Roseanne Murphy of Notre Dame de Namur University.
"To make a stand against violence because, as I said, violence has no religion," said Khaled Sarsour of the Muslim Community Association of the Peninsula.
A hundred people gathered for a candlelight vigil 5,500 miles from Paris, on a small campus, took a step towards each other.
"Every little prayer that we make is actually going a lot farther than can comprehend," Hussain said.
It is a small gesture that, to those gathered Wednesday night, means a great deal. For them, it feels like hope.
For full coverage on the Paris attacks, click here.