VANCOUVER – Christ Church Cathedral held an Opioid Crisis Service of Lament on Maundy Thursday. The liturgy was organized by parishioners, clergy and representatives of Providence Health Care and Vancouver Coastal Health. There were 2,224 opioid-related overdose deaths last year in British Columbia ± more than six people per day. The province declared a public health state of emergency in 2016, and the numbers have been climbing ever since.
In his reflection during the service, Bishop John Stephens of the Diocese of New Westminster said, ™These are the statistics and perhaps if we simply keep them as statistics, we can try to ignore them or avoid them or not make any real eye contact with them. But these are real people. People who are our neighbours. They are brothers, sisters, parents, children. They are uncles, aunties, teachers, lawyers, friends. They are people who work in grocery stores, coffee shops, offices, universities. They are people who know the streets, walk the streets, drive the streets, or have a fancy home on a street. They are like me, they are like you, they are like those people in our lives whom we love and cherish and appreciate. They are all of this and of so much more. But they are real people. Real people with dreams and aspirations and hopes and fears. Real people who laughed and cried and wondered how this world could be a better, kinder, gentler place. Real people who sadly probably died on their own even though there are many others who could have tried to help them. They are individuals just like us gathered here today to mourn them and mourn what continues to take place. They are not just statistics.”