This Sunday, families and friends of murder victims will gather at a Remembrance Service in Brooklyn, New York. This is the ninth annual event of its kind, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy and Safe Horizon.
Sister Camille D'Arienzo, who helps to organize the event, said that the convent’s Circle of Life, a group of which she is a part, gets involved in anti-death penalty work in various ways, but does not promote that agenda at the Remembrance Service. This is a distinction that it can be helpful for death penalty abolitionists to bear in mind when thinking about how to devote some of their efforts to helping victims’ families and to honoring and remembering victims. This Remembrance Service can serve as a useful model for those who might want to create something similar (or work with other groups to create something similar).
MVFHR member Marie Verzulli attended last year and told us that she found the service extremely valuable. The names of all the victims are read out as candles are lit, and a featured speaker talks about coping with the loss of a loved one. There’s also time for informal sharing of stories. “I haven’t seen a lot of other multi-faith services being done specifically to remember the victims of homicide,” Marie says, “and it’s very helpful to feel that something is being done for the families.”
This year, the featured speaker will be MVFHR member Kelli Cervantes, whose mother Noni was murdered by a serial killer in Oregon in 1987, when Kelli was a child.
If you’re in the New York area and want to attend the event, call in advance to register the name of the victim and the name of the person attending in their memory. Call Vilma Torres at Safe Horizon, Families of Homicide Victims Program, 718-834-6688, extension 22.