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Sustaining the spirit of human connection during a pandemic


Gathering of Remembrance

The long and cold winter months present many challenges as we continue to move through the physical distancing the COVID-19 pandemic necessitates. However, since the pandemic began, many in the DePaul community have continued to find creative ways to maintain a strong sense of human connection and collegial support.

Before the holiday break, DePaul's Division of Mission and Ministry provided a virtual space for the university community to grieve and celebrate the lives of lost ones, whether they be family, friends or coworkers. Adapting what is normally an in-person event, community members gathered from the comforts of their own homes, to watch and embrace the Gathering of Remembrance, an interfaith memorial service dedicated to those who have passed away over the previous year. The 2020 service is available onlin​e via YouTube.

"Culturally and religiously, the month of November is a time when we often remember those who have gone before us and who have made a meaningful impact on our lives," says Mark Laboe, associate vice president for faculty and staff engagement. “As we faced shorter days, the colder months of the year and the holiday season, this service was an opportunity to gather as a DePaul community and stand together in mutual support and solidarity with our colleagues who have experienced loss over the past year."

Throughout the service, Emily LaHood-Olsen, a ministry coordinator, performed vocal pieces accompanied by Chicago-based composer and pianist, Jon Hannau. Other members of the spiritual community at DePaul provided perspectives and readings.

 “This virtual memoriam is an example of people being creative and doing traditional things in new ways during this very challenging time," says Tom Judge, university chaplain. Judge who serves as a member of the pastoral care and the faculty and staff engagement teams. “This year we were able to include photos of those who have passed away. Because the program is available online, people have been able to go back and view the service again. We hope to include aspects like this in the future when we return to in-person events."

As we settle in to the winter quarter and consider creative ways to sustain human connection, the Gathering of Remembrance offers a warm and palpable sense of the community that is DePaul University. For more information about DMM programming for the campus community, visit the division's website.