Religious leaders of multiple faiths said they will gather at Reno City Plaza Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. to honor those who died homeless in Nevada during the past year. The candlelight vigil is being called “a remarkable interfaith gesture” bringing together people of Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist and Baha’i faiths.
In Washoe County 52 people living homeless died in 2021, with more than half of the deaths ruled as accidental. Organizers of the vigil said “if we [do not] remember them, who else would?”
“These numbers have been rising over the years,” said Father Charles Durante from Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Cathedral in downtown Reno. “The system seems to be fractured and sliced. It is our moral responsibility to care for people in need. All faith traditions agree on the dignity of human beings.”
Rajan Zed, a leader of Reno’s Hindu community, agrees.
“Every life holds value,” Zed said. “Human beings dying in our midst because of lack of basic necessities should not be acceptable to us as a community.”
At the vigil, each of the religious leaders plans to offer prayers based on their own traditions and languages. The names of each individual who died in 2021 will also be read aloud.
Organizers say they plan to make the vigil an annual event if homeless deaths continue to occur.