Columbia University: Columbia Commemorates COVID-19 Losses With Installation in Front of St. Paul’s Chapel

A father. A friend. A grandmother. These are just some of the people who have died in the last 18 months and are dear to the hearts of Columbians.

A new project from the Office of Religious Life aims to remember and memorialize those lives lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than 4.5 million people worldwide.

On September 15, 2021, the Office of Religious Life installed the first group of memorial signs on campus in front of St. Paul’s Chapel. More than 20 signs are currently on display, staying up through the fall semester, and you can still submit your remembrance at any time to be added to the “Covid-19 Memorial Project” installation.

One such remembrance is of Jose Ayabarreno, a Columbia Public Safety Officer, who passed away this past spring. Submitted by his coworker Sergio Deynes, the remembrance reads: “Jose left a lasting impression on everyone. He was such a great friend. You are sorely missed.”

You can stop by anytime to read the names and remembrances at the lawn in front of St. Paul’s Chapel.

These memorials are part of a joint project from the Offices of Religious and University Life called “Columbia Reflects,” which has events slated for September 20 and 21, 2021, part of a larger suite of events and gatherings planned to welcome students back to fully reopened campuses for the first time since March 2020. Columbia Reflects offers spaces for reflections, discussions, and opportunities to gather in a spirit of hope, and can be found here.

All day on September 20, there will be a musical reflection installation in St. Paul’s Chapel that Columbians can visit to honor and commemorate the lives lost. From 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., that day, St. Paul’s Chapel will host a multifaith service of music, reflection, and hope with religious life advisers from a variety of traditions who will share readings from their traditions. Angela Owens will perform a selection of African American spirituals, accompanied by Eric Martin.

Also on September 20 and 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Columbians are encouraged to stop by Columbia’s Irving Medical Center’s Haven Plaza and Hammer Lower Level Lobby to write a message of reflection, remembrance, or hope on ribbons. The ribbons will be displayed later as part of a community art project.