Archbishop José Gomez called on Angelenos to look at those suffering on the streets with “new eyes” at an interreligious prayer service remembering the city’s homeless dead.

“We need to bear one another’s burdens; we need to lift up our neighbors when they’ve fallen, bind their wounds, and find them a place to live.” said Archbishop Gomez in his reflection at the second annual Homeless Persons’ Interreligious Memorial Dec. 21. “When one of us is suffering, we all suffer.”

More than 200 people attended the memorial, symbolically timed to coincide with the date of the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. As rain fell outside, the lights inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels were dimmer than usual as a delegation of local interreligious representatives, led by Archbishop Gomez, began the service processing in to the sound of “Amazing Grace.”

Set near the cathedral altar were 1,665 battery-charged candles, bearing the names of each of the people identified by the LA County Coroner’s office as having died on the streets from December 2022 through Nov. 3 of this year. Each name was also printed in the night’s program, a detail noted by Lutheran Bishop Brenda Bos, who was the first to speak at the event….

Other interreligious delegates at the service included representatives of Orthodox, Bahá’í, Hindu, Jewish, and Mormon faiths….

Swami Mahayogananda of Hollywood’s Vedanta Center lamented how “we are able to let our own brothers and sisters die on the streets of our city, unloved, uncared for, cold and hungry….”

According to official statistics, Los Angeles had an estimated homeless population of 41,980 in 2022, making it the city with the largest homeless population in the country that year (that number grew to 46,260 this year). The number of homeless deaths in LA counted for this year’s memorial was over 200 more than the same time period in 2022.

Before the service started, council member Karen Akana came with her husband, Jim, to drop off boxes of hats and scarves collected during the drive.

“It’s just remarkable that we have that many people on the streets who have passed away,” said Akana, a parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Northridge….

From Angelus News