Annual Interfaith Memorial Observance for the Indigent
Chicago, IL (May 22, 2017) – The Annual Interfaith Memorial Service for the Indigent, commemorating the lives of Chicago-area residents who were laid to rest by the Office of the Medical Examiner of Cook County will begin at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24, at the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, 77 West Washington Street in Chicago. The memorial service is sponsored by the Ministry for Indigent Persons and is open to all. The Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs is a participating partner in the Ministry.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will deliver the opening address. Rabbi Shoshanah Conover, associate rabbi at Temple Sholom in Chicago will be the key note speaker. In addition to her clergy responsibilities, Rabbi Conover is a strong social justice activist in the Chicago area. Leaders from various religious traditions in Chicago will offer prayers and inspirational messages. During the memorial portion of the service, the names of each individual buried by the Office of the Medical Examiner will be read, a bell will be rung intermittently and five candles will be lit. The service offers the Chicago community an opportunity to act as a surrogate family to people who were buried without family or friends to mark their passing.
Now in its 32nd year, the Interfaith Memorial Service was founded by the late W. Earl Lewis. Lewis was employed as a doorman in Chicago when he learned of the mass burials of indigent persons by the Cook County Coroner’s Office. Inspired by the need to raise public awareness of this situation, Lewis labored for two years to establish a network to support an annual remembrance for individuals who died in poverty or whose families lacked the financial resources to bury them.