By Martin Murray ‘20

Every year, the Cook County Morgue releases the bodies of dead people who are unknown or died without a family to claim them.

The Archdiocese of Chicago then takes these bodies and gives them a proper burial.

This year, the Brother Rice Advocacy Club, along with fellow neighborhood schools, were invited to Mount Olivet Cemetery to take a moment to honor these people that were forgotten about at the time of their passing.

Mr. Dolan, the moderator of the Advocacy Club, said, “We were contacted about a month ago from Mr. Ed Sajdak, the campus minister at St. Laurence. He asked if we wanted to be a part of this, and I saw it as an awesome opportunity to work with a fellow Edmund Rice school, especially in terms of the third Essential Element, which talks about identifying with the marginalized.”

The experience was deeply moving. The presence of Christ could truly be felt in the chapel of Mount Olivet as high school students and community members gathered to give the dead some dignity and pray for them in the next life.

Junior Conor Durkin said, “We went to the cemetery and were told what to do. We walked the coffins into the chapel, prayed for them, and placed a white rose on the coffin. This act was the last human contact these souls had, and it was nice to know it was an act of compassion and love.”

Some students were even changed by the event.

Junior Chris Staszak said, “After the event, I have been much more appreciative of everything that I have in my life. Now I tell my parents just how thankful I am every day, and whenever I see a cemetery, I say an extra prayer that no one feels alone.”

It was also remarkable to watch rival schools come together, momentarily forget about their differences, and instead focus on their similarities while living out their mission as Catholic schools.

Senior Owen Greybill thought the burial was a terrific way to live out Brother Rice’s mission. Greybill said, “I think it’s important that we participated in this event because everyday at the end of every prayer we say, ‘Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.’ I think this is a beautiful way to do that, to be there for people who had no one and remind them that are cared for.”

As we approach the Christmas season, a season highlighted by family gatherings, the marginalized go without a family to love and celebrate the season with. Brother Rice does its best to reach out to these people and make them feel dignified in a world where they are often disregarded.