NEWS

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May 29, 2009

University losses mourned at Rockefeller

An interfaith service remembering students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the University who passed away this year was held Tuesday at Rockefeller Chapel.

Approximately 40 people gathered to mourn the loss of the more than 100 University affiliates who died. Their names were read aloud, along with the names of deceased past presidents of the University and members of their families who are interred at Rockefeller.

“Many students lost their lives in tragic accidents and that is, of course, heartbreaking,” said Reverend Elizabeth Davenport, dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Davenport stressed the inevitability of losing a portion of the community on an annual basis. What is important is that they be remembered, she said.

In the past, the ceremony took place on All Saints Day, as observed in the Christian tradition. According to Davenport, this year’s service was “shaped in a way that recognizes and honors our diverse traditions and practices.” The University plans to continue this trend of incorporating different religious and spiritual traditions in future events.

The observance continued with music, short readings, chants, and prayers. Those who took part represented the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.

“The ceremony is designed to be accessible to those of any tradition or none, and it is simply a time to remember and honor colleagues, friends, and family members,” Davenport said. “For those who are graduating, it is an opportunity to remember loved ones who cannot be there at this time of celebration, and whose absence is deeply felt.” Those who died in war have their names inscribed on a memorial wall.

The atmosphere was somber, as people silently shared their grief with one another. “We express the hope that there is some Paradise. Today, we all do this together,” Davenport said in her opening address.

Mourners were invited to light memorial candles, after which Associate Dean of Rockefeller Laura Hollinger recited a poem by Zelda. The service ended with a performance of the Paradisum, from Faure’s Requiem.