‘Lazarus Funeral': Boston College High School Students Honor Homeless Man as He Is Laid to Rest

The casket in the middle of St. Anthony's Shrine in Boston held a man forgotten by society.

His life was lived on the street, without a family to fill the pews.

"People just don't die and disappear," said Father Joe Quinn of St. Anthony's Shrine. "They die and we need to celebrate whatever their life was."

In April, Ezequiel Mendez died at the age of 57. Five months later, his life is being honored by 12 Boston College High School students who never knew the man.

They carried Mendez's casket from the hearse to the church on the second floor.

In a 45-minute funeral, the students sat in the front row, wearing jackets and ties.

"I want to make sure that Ezekial is remembered," said senior Lucca Possamai. "That his legacy doesn't die and that he wasn't abandoned during his funeral."

The funeral and burials are free for the city's poorest and loneliest, regardless of faith. St. Anthony's picks up the cost and the student's volunteer their time.

It's a partnership that protects the dignity of human life. It's called a "Lazarus funeral."

"Every week, we have a signup sheet or they send an email to the student body asking anyone if they're willing to volunteer," said Felipe Santos, a senior.

According to school officials, the sheet is usually filled within minutes, and there's a waiting list each time.

Possamai and Santos attended their third Lazarus funeral Wednesday.

"The first feeling that I got on the very first one ... it was just surreal." said Possamai. "It's another human being."

Santos said this is the first Lazarus funeral where his emotions were overpowering.

"Through this, I've learned that service is my passion," said Santos. "When I leave BC High, I want to go somewhere I can do the same and continue doing that for a career, or maybe the rest of my life."

Mendez may have died alone, but his life will always be remembered by the 12 students.

There is no set schedule for a Lazarus funeral. They happen on a case-by-case basis and are open to the public.

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