“To acknowledge the dignity of every human life”: Louisiana diocese plans mass funeral for unclaimed bodies

An extraordinary undertaking:

For the last two years, Lafayette Catholic Service Centers have been working towards burying the unclaimed at the Lafayette Parish Coroner’s office.

This unexpected journey began when Kimberly Boudreaux, Executive Director at Lafayette Catholic Service Centers, contacted the coroner’s office to claim a formerly homeless man, whom I had befriended at St. Joseph Shelter. Within that phone call she learned that Brian was one of many who had been left at the coroner’s office for an extended period of time unclaimed, unidentified or simply unwanted. She was told that some of the 70+ remains had been unclaimed and stored for longer than ten years.  Through a partnership with Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Lafayette Catholic Service Centers were able to claim these individuals and plan a proper burial.

The funeral and burial for 87 people has been scheduled for April 28th at 10:00am at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.  Bishop Michael Jarrell will conduct the service and residents of St. Joseph Shelter for Men will serve as pallbearers. There will be a wake from 9:00am – 10:00am with a rosary lead by the Missionaries of Charity. Internment will follow at the Cathedral Cemetery, where will honor those who were veterans with a graveside military service. In an attempt to create an ecumenical service, we are inviting ministers of other faiths to participate in the service. The service will be open to the public to attend.

The intent of this project is to acknowledge the value and dignity of every human life. To show the homeless, and those who feel forgotten among us today that we are community that cares for its neighbors. No one will go unclaimed in Lafayette.

Read more — and learn how you can help here.

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