Loyola Community ‘Novembers’ the Dead at Campus Ministry Celebration

Mary Chappell

Claudia Alvarado, an 18-year-old first-year studying advertising and public relations at Loyola, said she’s celebrated All Saints Day for as long as she can remember.

Although she’s across the country from her home church in Las Vegas, Alvarado said Loyola’s event to honor those who’ve died reminded her of celebrating the holiday at home.

“Novembering” was held in Terry Student Center on Loyola’s Water Tower Campus (WTC) and Madonna Della Strada chapel on the Lake Shore Campus. The event brought together traditions of different November holidays which honor the dead. The “Novembering” celebration was a culmination of All Saints Day, All Souls Day and Día de Muertos — also known as Day of the Dead — according to Lisa Reiter, director of Loyola’s Campus Ministry.

All Saints Day, celebrated Nov. 1, is a Catholic holiday which honors the lives of saints — holy figures which serve as models of the Catholic faith. During All Souls Day Nov. 2, Catholics pray and honor those who have passed.

Día de Muertos is a Mexican holiday celebrated from Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in which people celebrate the lives of the dead through traditions such as creating altars in honor of the deceased, Reiter said.

Altars were put up at Loyola Oct. 26, and remained standing until Nov. 2.

Students were encouraged to send in photos of loved ones who had passed away to Campus Ministry or to write down a loved one’s name on paper provided at the altars, according to Grace Girardot, minister at WTC. More than 100 students participated, according to Reiter.

Mary Chappell

Girardot helped set up the altar at Terry Student Center; she said the altars are a way to bring together different holidays honoring the dead.

“All those different occasions are opportunities for people to honor the dead, so it’s really just bringing all those things together in one place,” Girardot said.

Alvarado said she was happy to see the altars at both campuses, because they gave students the opportunity to participate in something she’s been a part of for so long.

“I think it is really awesome they have the altars,” Alvarado said. “It’s a really accessible way for people in the Catholic faith to participate and honor the dead.”

Lea Smeester, a 19-year-old sophomore studying business and Spanish, sent in a photo of her grandmother. She said seeing her grandmother honored on the altar helped her through the first anniversary of her death.

“I was having a really terrible week and I decided to go visit the church to see if it was up,” Smeester said. “I saw they had put her picture right in the front and it made me feel a lot of things I needed to feel.”

Smeester said she thinks it’s important for everyone, not just students who’ve lost someone, to see the altars.

“We see the reason why we are here in the first place — the people that came before us,” Smeester said. “It’s a beautiful thing to celebrate. Even if you don’t have somebody up there, it’s just a really beautiful thing to see.”

Reiter said the choice to include different holidays into the “Novembering” celebration allowed for many students to be included and educated.

“We have a broad and diverse community here at Loyola,” Reiter said. “We also use it as an opportunity for education, to educate our Loyola community there are different practices for how people honor their loved ones that have died.”

Reiter said she hopes the altars can have a positive impact on students currently dealing with the loss of a loved one.

“The ritual of doing this can actually help with the grief process and healing,” Reiter said. “For a student who is actively grieving, I am hoping it will provide them some healing.”

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