Memorial honors victims of COVID-19

Battery operated candles were used during a vigil at Southwick Congregational Church jan. 19, 2021 in remembrance of lives lost to COVID-19. (HOPE E. TREMBLAY/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

SOUTHWICK – Their numbers were small, but their message was big as members of Southwick Congregational Church joined a national memorial for victims of COVID-19 Tuesday.

Rev. Julie Olmsted said she heard about the memorial on Monday and it was short notice, but she was happy a few folks gathered on the church steps at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 19.

“There’s actually none of us who have not been affected, but particularly today we mourn those whose lives have been cut short and we embrace through our prayers and shared thoughts those who have lost loved ones and are left behind with empty spaces where once there was love, laughter and the physical presence of someone special and very much alive,” said Olmsted.

Olmsted told the small group Tuesday that they were connecting with those gathered around the country, embracing them and mourning with them.

‘We gather tonight not only to mourn their passing, but also to give thanks for the lives they lived, the people they touched, the families they raised and the communities they served,” she said.

She asked God to bless the nation.

Southwick Congregational Church joined congregations around the country Jan. 15 at 5:30 p.m. to remember victims of COVID-19. (HOPE E. TREMBLAY/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

Rev. Julie Olmsted of Southwick Congregational Church leads a memorial service on the steps of the church Jan. 19, 2021 in remembrance of victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. (HOPE E. TREMBLAY/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

“We ask for expediency in the distribution and logistics of the vaccine,” she prayed. “We give thanks for all those who have given of their time, talent, passion and caregiving; Doctors, nurses, scientists, essential workers, truck drivers, cleaning people, administrators, every good person who continues to selflessly work for the end of the deadly scourge and its sometimes deadly consequences.”

Olmsted prayed “may we all continue to shine the light of hope to this weary world. May we be beacons of healing. Comfort and encouragement to those we encounter, everywhere we go.”

Battery-operated votives were distributed and turned on as Patty Banasik, chair of the board of deacons, read the poem “A Litany of Remembrance.”

Following the vigil, Olmsted said she organized the event because “we all have to do everything we can to show unity I these times.”

Rev. Julie Olmsted reads a prayer during a COVID-19 memorial service at Southwick Congregational Church. (HOPE E. TREMBLAY/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

Southwick Congregational Church joined people around the country Jan. 15 at 5:30 p.m. to remember victims of COVID-19. (HOPE E. TREMBLAY/THE WESTFIELD NEWS)

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