Remembering Our Homeless Community Members That Passed – An Interfaith Candlelight Vigil in Reno, Nevada
On a cold winter night, dozens of Reno residents gathered at the city plaza in front of the “Believe” sign to honor the memory of those who died while experiencing homelessness. Organized by faith leaders from different religions, the candlelight vigil served as a reminder that even in our darkest moments, there is still light and hope.
Based on records from the Medical Examiner’s Office, homeless deaths have skyrocketed in Washoe County since 2016—going up about 500% in 2022. In 2020 alone, 49 people lost their lives due to exposure, accidents, drug use, suicide, and homicide. Just one year later in 2021, that number rose to 57. And according to recently released data, 98 individuals died while experiencing homelessness in Washoe County last year.
As the names of each deceased were read aloud during the ceremony, it was a stark reminder of how easy it is for anyone to fall through the cracks in our society. With winter temperatures near freezing, those gathered at the vigil bowed their heads in prayer—calling on God to help end this growing issue in our area.
“There are too many people who fall through the cracks in the system,” said Father Chuck Durante, rector at Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Cathedral. “It is our moral responsibility to care for people in need. We hope that this vigil will inspire action and bring awareness to this growing issue so that we can make a difference in our community.”
The candlelight vigil was just one small way of showing support for those experiencing homelessness; however there is still much work left to be done. By coming together in solidarity, we can help make an impact—and start making real strides towards ending this issue once and for all.
At the end of the day, no one should ever have to go without basic needs such as food or shelter – and it is not only our responsibility to see that no one does, but an opportunity for us to demonstrate the power of compassion and love.
Let’s continue fighting alongside all those in need—no matter who they may be!
To conclude, let’s remember what Jesus said in Matthew 25:35-36 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” And may we all strive to put these beautiful words into action!