Orange County interfaith community hosts annual homeless remembrance service

December 11, 2023 at 9:58 am
    The event on Dec. 21 symbolically takes place on the longest night of the year and features candles carried in procession to memorialize those who died in the streets in 2023. GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (Dec. 11, 2023) — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange is hosting Orange County’s 8th annual Homeless Persons’ Interreligious Memorial Service on Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. at St. Timothy parish in Laguna Niguel. The event symbolically takes place on the first night of winter, which is the longest night of the year. In addition to remarks from various interfaith representatives, hundreds of names will be read and candles carried in remembrance of every life lost — persons experiencing homelessness who died on the streets of Orange County in 2023. Most of the names come from Orange County coroner’s office records. During last year’s service held at Lutheran Church of the Cross in Laguna Woods, nearly 500 names were read. “This is an evening that opens the human heart to a very serious issue in our local community: that over 500 homeless persons died last year in Orange County. This is shocking,” said Fr. Al Baca, the Diocese’s episcopal vicar for interfaith and ecumenical affairs. “I am always reminded of Mother Teresa who had a special love for the poor and the homeless. She searched for solutions. She treated people with kindness and compassion. That, to me, is Christ in action.” The Homeless Persons’ Interreligious Memorial Service has included representatives from the Catholic, Episcopalian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Assyrian Church of the East, African Methodist, Bahá’í, Muslim and Lutheran faiths. “In his encyclical God is Love, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that ‘One does not make the world more human by refusing to act humanely here and now,’” said Greg Walgenbach, the Diocese’s director of the Office of Life, Justice & Peace. “The shocking number of people who die on the streets of Orange County indicates our own failures to adequately house, provide services for, accompany, and build up our community in ways that make it easier for people to flourish. We are obligated to act and welcome this opportunity for prayerful remembrance of the lives of these dear neighbors.” The Homeless Persons’ Interreligious Memorial Service is organized by the Diocese of Orange, St. Timothy Catholic Church, Our Father’s Table, the Knights of Columbus St. Timothy Council No. 128341, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, Volunteer Network OC and the Orange County Interfaith Network. St. Timothy Catholic Church is located at 29102 Crown Valley Parkway, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677. For more information on how to get involved, join the candle procession or add a name to be read, visit The service will also be livestreamed at Photographers, video crews and reporters interested in covering the service are asked to register with Jarryd Gonzales of the Diocese of Orange Office of Communications at [email protected] or (714) 282-3075. * About the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange With 1.3 million Catholics, 58 parishes, five Catholic centers and 36 schools, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange is one of the largest and most diverse faith communities in the United States. The Diocese empowers Catholics across Orange County to have an active life of faith that is integrated and woven into the fabric of their daily lives through the community and sacramental life of the Church. Under the leadership of Bishop Kevin Vann, the Diocese works to establish and support dynamic, vibrant parishes and schools welcoming all to live the Gospel with faith, joy, charity and unity. Christ Cathedral, the spiritual home of the Bishop of Orange, was dedicated in July 2019. Learn more about the Diocese of Orange at