University Holds Vigil Comemmorating Life of Sydney Monfries


Students placed flowers and candles on the steps of Keating Hall to honor Sydney Monfries. (Julia Comerford/ The Fordham Ram)

By Helen Stevenson

Sydney Monfries, FCRH ’19, died on Sunday, April 14 after sustaining a critical injury in a fall from Keating Clock tower. In response, the university held a number of services in her memory, including a Palm Sunday mass on the day of her passing and a vigil held on Tuesday, April 16, where students were invited to come together at University Church to share memories and collectively remember Monfries.

Members of the Fordham community filled the pews, the aisles and the second floor of University Church. The basement of the church contained overflow seating, where the service was live streamed.

Prior to the service, Michael C. McCarthy, S.J., vice president for Mission Integration and Planning, reached out to the members of the Fordham community via email, expressing the importance of community at this time.

“It’s important for us to be patient with ourselves and to take care of each other,” he wrote.

All members of the community were invited to attend the services. According to McCarthy, United Student Government (USG), Commuting Students Association (CSA), Residence Halls Association (RHA) and Campus Activities Board (CAB) coordinated the event with support and guidance from Campus Ministry.

In a joint statement to the students of Fordham, USG, CSA, RHA and CAB said Monfries was an amazing friend, classmate and member of the Fordham community. They 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.

According to McCarthy, the administration felt it was important to give the students the opportunity to organize the service with the university’s support. During the service, friends of Monfries told personal anecdotes and provided comfort and support for one another. Students who spoke during the service asked that their comments not be reproduced in this article.

“At times of tragedy, when one doesn’t know what else to do, sometimes having the capacity to at least organize a service… It can be healing,” McCarthy said. “As painful as the service was, we thought it was important to give students the opportunity to do that.”

McCarthy said the service allowed the Fordham community to come together in a time of tragedy.

“I always think of the quote by the Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno, that the chiefest sanctity of a temple is that it is a place where people come to weep in common,” McCarthy said. “This was a tremendous tragedy that we all felt. We were just heartbroken.”

During this week, there will be a lamp and condolence book set next to a portrait of Monfries. The display outside University Church invites members of the community to sign the book and spend time in prayer and reflection, according to an email from McCarthy.

A funeral service was held on Monday, April 22, at Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem. Monfries’s burial took place at Hope Cemetery at Hastings on Hudson.

Counseling services are available in the Counseling and Psychological Services office in O’Hare Hall. The office 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.