Published May 15, 2014
Members of the UB community, family and friends gathered last week in the Student Union Theatre to remember 16 students who passed away during the 2013-14 academic year.
After an opening song from the Buffalo Chips, UB’s male a capella group, Colleen Connolly, student support coordinator in the Office of Judicial Affairs & Student Advocacy, began the Student Remembrance Service by reading the names of each of the 16 students. Laura Hemlock, director of Hillel of Buffalo, lit a candle for each student:
Barbara Ricotta, associate vice president for student affairs, told attendees that the service, the 10th held by the Division of Student Affairs, was a “time for us to reflect on all they have meant to us and the effect they had on the university.”
Ricotta said she was a fan of Broadway musicials because “they often have a way of reminding us of important life lessons.”
Before playing the song “For Good” from the musical “Wicked,” she recited some lyrics of the song, which, she said was about the impact two friends have had on each other’s lives:
I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...
It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...
“Those of you who are familiar with the musical know that the message is also name of the song: ‘For Good,’” Ricotta said. “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good. … Think about the handprints they have left on our hearts.”
Fr. Patrick Keleher, director, Catholic Campus Ministry, noted that those at the service “work to recover that balance we once possessed.”
Each person holds their own memories of their loved one — of putting them on the school bus, teaching them to ride a bike, their last meal together.
“Such memories are meant slowly to pick us up again,” Keleher said. “Look around this room today. Somehow, all of us are together. We’re not alone. We need such times. We need such symbols: We need candles and flowers and memorials; to walk together, not alone.
“What we do here today will not make the pain disappear or go away, but our remembrance and our time and the time we pray — our tears will melt, dissolve the pain which seems so awful. And somehow, sometime, bring us the light that this day is today,” he said, remarking that the sunny, warm day was the first nice day of the year. “I hope and pray that we all get some light.”
Following Keleher’s remarks, reflections of the students were shared by UB students and staff members.
The memorial service then moved outside the Student Union to the “Wall of Bricks” on the south side of the building, where bricks in remembrance of each of the 16 students were dedicated. A University Police Honor Guard led family and friends to the flag pole at the Lee Loop, where the UB flag was lowered to half-mast to conclude the service.