20th Annual Fall Memorial Service

A Community Comes Together

The heavenly tears that were shed in the form of rain the day prior, gave way to a pleasant, partly sunny day for the annual One Bright Star Children’s Memorial Service held on Sunday, September 24 at the OBS memorial site in Mankato.

Friends and families gathered, coming together at a place they’d rather not be. A place in which they can walk a shared path with others who are on their own grief journey, mourning the loss of a child.

One Bright Star Executive Director, Erica Fischer, welcomed the attendees to the ceremony. “Today is the day to say the names of our children, to honor and remember them, she said. “Today is the day of tradition.”

Executive Director of One Bright Star, Erica Fischer, welcomes friends and families to the 20th annual Children’s Memorial Service held on Sunday, September 24, 2023

Board President, Alicia More, talked about this being a club or group that no one wants to be a part of. “Yet we come together to support one another and to know that you are not alone, to remember and to share our children, whether we had them for two days, two years or twentytwo years, today we honor their memory.”

The invocation prayer was led by Jillene Gallatin, senior pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Waseca. She talked about the “power in community” when people come together to share and hear the stories of the beautiful lives that continue to live on in hearts and memories and stories. “When a person’s name is spoken, it’s like letting out a little love into this world,” she said. “We continue to recognize the importance of sharing stories. and healing in stories, of sharing love as you share your child’s name.”

Keynote speaker for the event was Mel Hoffner. Her daughter, Mara, died on May 2, 2021 by suicide. Hoffner spoke about grief and hope. “It is with heavy hearts that we come together to honor the names of the children who left this world far too soon,” she said. “Grief is not a sign of weakness but a testament to the depth of our love, it is a process that unfolds at its own pace.” She spoke about the importance of the community of support that is here and the people who understand the depth of pain that she, and others are going through.

Tom Karels, who lost his son, William, read the poem, “As We Remember Them.” The names of lost children were read by Kristine Schimek as Erica Fischer handed roses to the bereaved families.

Founding mother of One Bright Star, Linda Janavaras, read the poem, “My Bright Shinning Star” which was written by the four founding mothers of OBS.

Music was provided by the group, In a Bind featuring pianist, Becky Borneke and singers Melanie Morrow and Jenna Byron. A bird release into the skies offering the sign of hope and healing concluded the program.

The 2024 Fall Children’s Memorial Service is being planned for Sunday, September 22.

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