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Hundreds gather to mourn overdose victims

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Overdose casualties include family, friends, and first responders
By Agnieszka Krawczynski

Photo: Mourners of various faiths gather May 18 to remember those who have died during B.C.'s opioid overdose crisis. (Photo submitted)

B.C.’s overdose crisis claimed more than 900 people last year and 347 in the first three months of 2017, but the actual toll is even larger.

Family members and friends have lost loved ones. Communities have been devastated. And first responders are suffering emotionally and physically from the daily carnage.

On May 18, those affected by the overdose crisis joined with people of faith from across the Lower Mainland in a prayer vigil at Christ Church Anglican Cathedral in Vancouver.

The vigil began with silent reflection, prayer, mourning, and support for those affected. It concluded with an interfaith memorial service with representatives from Sikh, Buddhist, Jewish, and Christian faiths.

Christopher De Bono, vice president of mission, ethics, and spirituality for Providence Health Care, said the pain of losing loved ones “can feel so close to the heart” that it defines them.
“Prayer is a way of sharing that pain.”

Archdiocesan vicar general Father Gary Franken, who participated in the vigil, told Catholic News Service Catholics should respond to the crisis by building relationships of “non-judgmental support” among parishes.

Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller released a pastoral letter about the crisis in February.
In it, he said, “This health emergency is widespread, cutting across every segment of society and devastating families and communities.”

The crisis claims a life every 10 hours, he said, “more than double the number of homicides and traffic fatalities combined.”

Archbishop Miller gave several calls to action, including urging elected officials to emphasize the need for more treatment and care for the addicted, calling for more education, advocating for better pain management, promoting 12-step programs and other recovery methods, and contributing to organizations on the front lines.

“The Church’s response to the overdose crisis must imitate that of Jesus, who told us: ‘Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do unto me.’”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 May 2017 12:07  

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