Administration and Students Remember Sydney Monfries, FCRH ’19

By Helen Stevenson and Sarah Huffman 

Sydney Monfries, FCRH ’19, died on Sunday, April 14 after sustaining a critical injury in a fall from Keating Hall clock tower around 3 a.m. that morning.

Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, mourned her loss in an email addressing members of the Fordham family.

“There are no words sufficient to describe the loss of someone so young and full of promise — and mere weeks from graduation,” he wrote.

McShane said Fordham will confer an FCRH bachelor’s degree upon Monfries posthumously, which will be presented to her parents at the appropriate time.

“I know you join me in keeping Sydney’s family and loved ones in your thoughts and prayers,” he wrote. “And also know that you are in mine.”

On Sunday, April 14, the university held a Mass for Monfries.

The service was held in conjunction with Palm Sunday Mass at 7 p.m. in the University Church. Rev. Lito Salazar, S.J., presided over the mass, with McShane.

Students, faculty and other members of the university community filled the church, with many standing behind the pews and in the vestibule. The email notifying the community of the service was sent less than an hour before the start of the service. A second email notifying the community of Monfries’ death was sent 10 minutes before the service began.

During the blessing of the palms at the start of the mass, Salazar said a few words about Monfries’ family and friends.

“We accompany Sydney and her friends and family during this week we call holy,” he said later in the service during the homily.

Salazar’s homily centered on faith in the face of tragic events.

“We are Christians, and we are not afraid of tragedy,” repeated Salazar throughout the homily.

The Fordham community offered prayers for Monfries during the general intercessions portion of the service.

“Into your hands Lord, we commend your daughter Sydney, and let repentant light shine upon her,” Salazar said at the end of the mass. “May she rest in peace.”

In a joint statement to the students of Fordham, United Student Government (USG), Commuting Students Association (CSA), Residence Halls Association (RHA) and Campus Activities Board (CAB) said Monfries was an amazing friend, classmate and member of the Fordham community.

“She truly embodied all that Fordham seeks of its students: compassion, kindness, and love,” they said. “She was compassionate to all of those she encountered. Offered kindness to all of her friends. She loved, and was loved by, the hundreds of lives that she touched throughout her four years at Fordham.”

USG, CSA, RHA and CAB said that Monfries had friends all over the Fordham community, from every walk of life.

“Sydney was a bright light on this campus, in this city, and in this world, and we will miss her presence tremendously,” they said. “Words cannot express what those closest to Sydney are going through, but the entire student body mourns with love.”

Michael C. McCarthy, S.J., vice president for Mission Integration and Planning, reached out to the members of the Fordham community via email, recognizing how important it is to be together at this time.

He said the office will hold two services in her honor. The first will be held on Tuesday, April 16, at 8 p.m. in the University Church and Terrace. The second will be a more formal service next week, most likely on Tuesday, April 23, according to McCarthy.

Members of the community are invited to attend the services, and they will be planned and led by members of the Student body.

“Of course, in times such as these, it’s natural to have a wide range of feelings, thoughts, and concerns,” he said. “ It’s important for us to be patient with ourselves and to take care of each other.”

USG, CSA, RHA and CAB called on all members of the student body to attend the service.

“Let us all exhibit the love to one another that Sydney exhibited to all those she encountered,” they said.

Counseling services are available in the Counseling and Psychological Services office in O’Hare Hall. They can be contacted at (718) 817-3725.

Residential Life staff is available in residence halls, and campus ministers are available around campus to speak with at any point. Campus Ministry can be reached at (718) 817-4500.

Information on funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.