Catholic Sentinel photo by Clarice Keating
Dana Ackerman and Ginny Gaines light candles during interfaith memorial service.
Clarice KeatingPeople of all faiths and walks of life gathered last month at St. André Bessette Church to remember and bless the Downtown fallen, as well as anyone who died tragically during the past year.
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In its 30th year, the interfaith gathering included a Buddhist prayer and meditation, a reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, musical reflections and other memorial traditions.
Attendees were welcomed by Holy Cross Father Steve Newton, pastor of St. André Bessette, and Rev. Roger Fuchs, chaplain with Operation Nightwatch.
Michael One Road and his nephew sang two Lakota honor songs.
“I have to sing two songs,” he said. “One to honor those we’re here for and one for them to go home with.”
Rev. Kyogen Carlson, sensei or teacher at Dharma Rain Zen Center, described the Buddhist tradition of stripping down an altar, so the remains or photos of the person being remembered are the focal point. Sections of the service are directed to the deceased, and other portions to the people at the service, because “all life is worthy of careful examination and respect.”
“Birth and death are as clouds that rise and fade with the sky,” he said, during the prayer.
Invited to stand before the group and share remembrances, visitors spoke of Nikayla Powell, a 32-year-old volunteer to the homeless, and 15-year-old Mayra Sophia Cruz Rodriguez, who were murdered by convicted sex offender Mark Beebout.
Visitors shared loving memories Barb Lescher, former director of Our Peaceful Place, who trekked all over the city handing out sandwiches, socks and hygiene items, which she carried on her back, like those she served in the ministry.
Holy Cross Father Steve Newton also asked attendees to remember and pray for the people no one knew — “The man who jumped from the roof Oct. 1,” “The man who jumped from the balcony Oct. 2” or “The man who shot himself on St. John’s Bridge Oct. 2.”
“We can do all we can to make sure no one dies without a name,” he said.