The Seventh Annual Orange County Homeless Persons’ Interreligious Memorial Service was held Wednesday night. The service commemorated the 492 lives of our neighbors who were experiencing homelessness and died on our streets this past year.

We attended the service and found it to be a meaningful opportunity to show some love and compassion for those individuals. In many cases, this service was the only commemoration of their lives. With this memorial service, we said their lives matter and we mourned their deaths.

The name of each individual was read, and a candle was lit and walked up to the altar in their honor. Once all 492 names were announced, religious leaders from various faiths provided reflections and prayers.

The religious leaders included: Pastor Kevin Sheldon, Lutheran Church of the Cross; The Rev. Canon Dr. George Okusi, Rector, St. John the Divine Church; Rabbi Cantor Marcia Tilchin, founder and spiritual leader, Jewish Collaborative of Orange County; The Most Reverend Thanh Thai Nguyen, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Orange County; Maneck Bhujwala, Mobedyar (Priest), Zarathushti (Zoroastrian); Kristin Samuelian, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; Shaykh Shahid Ali, Islamic Society of Orange County; Rabbi Joe Mendelsohn, Reform Temple of Laguna Woods; and Pastor Paul Finley, Lutheran Church of the Cross.

If you were not able to attend this years’ service, mark your calendars for next year. The Homeless Persons’ Interreligious Memorial Service is always held on Winter Solstice, which is December 21st and is the longest night of the year.

We hope to see you next year, and please pray for the lives lost this year. They matter.