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University holds memorial, honors Lisa Yang

and | Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Notre Dame students and staff filled the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Tuesday evening to honor senior Lisa Yang with a memorial Mass. Yang’s parents and priests from the Congregation of Holy Cross were also in attendance.

Michael Yu | The Observer
Students, faculty and members of the Congregation of Holy Cross gathered Tuesday night in honor of senior Lisa Yang, who died at Memorial Hospital in South Bend March 3.

Yang, a native of Herndon, Virginia, died March 3 at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, after a suicide attempt the previous week.

Readings were done by Erin Hoffmann Harding, vice president of student affairs, and Hannah Knochelmann, a resident assistant in McGlinn Hall, where Yang had been a resident. William Kennedy delivered the petitions.

Fr. Pete McCormick, director of Campus Ministry, gave the homily. Yang’s death has been difficult to grasp, McCormick said.

“We ponder this event, the death of someone with such love and compassion for others, who suffered so greatly on the inside,” McCormick said. “We are anxious, too, by the fact that Lisa is not the only one to feel this way. We ask ourselves how is it that we can deal with this in the future.”

McCormick thanked the Yangs for their openness with the Notre Dame community.

“The Notre Dame family owes the Yangs a great debt, because if it were not for you, for your willingness to allow us to be so honest about what it is, we would not be able to help those who feel the same way, who feel that they are alone …  who feel that it is impossible for anyone else to experience this type of pain,” McCormick said.

“Her courage, her beauty and the way in which she lived her life now serve as a reminder to us to be on the look out for people who struggle with such pain,” he said. “We know that Lisa was unwilling to share that pain that she felt with her friends, her family and those closest to her because she didn’t want to be seen as a burden.”

McCormick encouraged students to reach out to one another.

“Our great sorrow on this night is that we came to know her struggle too late,” he said. “While we cannot redo the past, we can move forward with greater wisdom, understanding and hope.

“We hope that Lisa’s death might be an opportunity to help others understand that those dealing with depression should not be completely alone, but instead, for students to reach out to others.”

One candle in the darkness only allows one to see the rough image, McCormick said, but many candles together — such as the Grotto candles students arranged in Yang’s name the night she died — radiate brightly enough to illuminate the whole.

“The community that looks out for one another, motivated by compassion, will provide hope and clarity in even the darkest places,” McCormick said.

“My brothers and sisters, let not Lisa’s passing simply be a moment of sadness, or a celebration of life,” he said.

“That would be too one-dimensional. But instead, let it be a moment … a moment in time where we see life as the precious gift it is. A moment in time where we commit to doing what we can to let people know that they are loved.”

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