Students, staff and faculty came together on Thursday, Sept. 30, to support each other in their loss. (COURTESY MIKE PETERS FOR MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY)

Students, staff and faculty came together on Thursday, Sept. 30, to support each other and acknowledge the toll COVID-19 has taken on the community and the world. The campus community created a luminaria display of words of remembrance, healing and hope in an effort to support one another for those who have lost loved ones, been ill themselves or suffered from the stress and isolation of living through this time.

The ceremony was held at the Amphitheater and included singing and spoken words of encouragement, as lights flickered in bags that created a wall of remembrance.

Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life Dawn Soufleris spoke of COVID-19’s disruption to everyone’s lives and the losses experienced: loved ones, cherished friends, coworkers, as well as other losses: “a job, the closure of a favorite restaurant, the ability to do something we love to do.”

A luminaria display of words at Montclair State University. (COURTESY MIKE PETERS FOR MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY)

The university community continues to work together and is looking toward a brighter future, she said.

“While we are not fully done with this pandemic, little by little we move closer to gaining back our lives, our community, our ability to be together and our opportunity to cherish what we have,” Soufleris said, adding that the night was meant as a chance to pause, reflect and remember.

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“I hope you will find peace. You’ll have a chance to breathe. And re-tune. We have come so far, and our future looks very bright,” she said. “In the darkness, there is always light. In the light, there is always hope. And in hope, there is always love.”

Submitted by Montclair State University.