Ceremony commemorates alumnus lost

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College is just a step in the journey of life. As life continues, so comes the inevitable: those who graduated years ago from Pacific pass away.

Pacific’s Alumni Relations department hosts an event for people who are close to those alumni to honor their life and what they contributed to Pacific’s legacy.

“The special thing about working in Alumni Relations is we get to be a part of people’s lives,” said Director of Alumni Relations Martha Calus-McLain. “It’s an honor to be a part of the good times and the hard times.”

The ceremony takes around 10 minutes. Four times a year, guests sit in the chapel in Old College Hall as Alumni Relations reads aloud the names of those who passed since the last ceremony. All names, which include faculty and staff who have passed, are inscribed into the Book of Remembrances. This book holds records of names, schools attended, graduation year and years lived.

“Everyone who comes has walked away saying something to the degree of ‘that was perfect,’” said Calus-McLain. “We treat the ceremony with absolute reverence whether people attend or not.”

Calus-McLain has been in Alumni Relations for nine years and when she first came to Pacific she said she “felt like something was missing.”

She previously worked at the University of Portland, a private Roman Catholic university that held mass every week. Once a month one of the masses was dedicated to those who had recently passed.

Strongly believing in honoring those who built the backbone of Pacific, Calus-McLain said one of her first goals was to bring a similar ceremony to Pacific.

“To be respectful of the diversity at Pacific,” said Calus-McLain. “Lumping everyone into one religious ceremony wasn’t the Pacific way.”

Working closely with the United Church of Christ, Calus-McLain and Pastor Jennifer Yocum created the Alumni Remembrance Ceremony to be something non-secular and simple, said Calus-McLain.

The first Alumni Remembrance Ceremony was held in May 2011 and the tradition is set to continue.

Twenty-three alumni, faculty and staff will be honored in the next ceremony. Specifically, psychology professor Jay Thomas and former department chair of psychology Maurice McDowell will be honored.

“Pacific University is what it is because of the alumni,” said Calus-McLain.

This quarter’s ceremony will be held at noon on Nov. 16 at Old College Hall. Family, friends and loved ones finish the ceremony by bringing everything full circle by ringing the bell, in Sign, Shake and Ring to honor those who passed.


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