||During part of the service, crosses representing those killed by violence are distributed to the attendees, who then process into the church.
All: CARRIE MCCLISH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
Support for families who suffered violence
Hours before the start of a new year, people from all ages, ethnicities and faith traditions gathered Dec. 31 at Oakland's St. Columba Church to mourn, remember and celebrate more than 80 lives that had been lost to violence.
During the prayer service led by Rev. Aidan McAleenan, St. Columba pastor, prayers of support and words of encouragement were offered up for the loved ones of the deceased.
Mallie Latham, whose daughter had been killed five years earlier, acknowledged and thanked the many people who helped him deal with his loss. He urged the survivors to be open to accepting support from others and to find comfort in gatherings like the prayer service as he has done.
With music performed by Mark Wilson and the parish choir, the memorial concluded outside of the church where 83 crosses had been placed during 2016 bearing the first name, age and date of death of each victim of violence. Two recent murders were also acknowledged at the end of the prayer service.
A larger cross that had been added to the memorial garden, commemorating the loss of 36 lives of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in East Oakland nearly a month earlier, was presented to Rev. Jayson Landeza, who had served as pastor at St. Columba when the memorial cross remembrance began about a dozen years ago. Father Landeza, who currently serves as chaplain to the city's police and fire departments and is pastor at St. Benedict in Oakland, said he would take the cross to the remains of the burned out building in Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood.
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