In a remarkable interfaith gesture; Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i, Pagan religious leaders of the area are joining together to remember homeless Nevadans who died in 2022.
Besides lighting candles in memory of Nevadans who lost their lives while homeless, some from exposure to the elements, religious leaders plan to offer prayers in their respective traditions in English, Spanish, Arabic, Sanskrit, Persian, Pali languages in Reno City Plaza, by the BELIEVE sign, on February 15; starting at 05:30 pm. A former homeless person, who recently spent years on the area streets, will also speak of her first-hand experiences.
It is a solemn service of remembrance where the names of houseless people who died in 2022 in Washoe County will be read. This is the second such service, and this multi-faith group of area religious leaders plan to make this candlelight vigil an annual feature if these preventable homeless deaths continue to happen.
One of the coordinators of this vigil; Father Chuck Durante, Rector at Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Cathedral; points out: “In Washoe County alone, 96 homeless people died in 2022, which is almost double than the 54 homeless deaths in 2021. These numbers have been rising over the years. There are too many people who fall through the cracks in the system. It is our moral responsibility to care for people in need. Each person is sacred and all faith traditions agree on the dignity of human beings.”
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who is also one of the coordinators of this event, says: “Every life holds value. Human beings dying in our midst because of lack of basic necessities should not be acceptable to us as a community. Coordinated efforts are needed to protect lives; and saving lives should be the highest priority of various agendas.”
This is a vigil of remembrance. Area religious leaders feel that if we did not remember them, who else would?
All are welcome to attend, as an expression for love of our neighbors, and remembering those in our community who were neglected and silently left this world while having no safe and warm housing.