At a memorial mass held at Marsh Chapel Saturday afternoon to honor the life of Diego Fernandez Montes, a Boston University freshman killed during a robbery in Mexico City, members of the BU community reflected on Fernandez’s exceptional character and involvement at the university.
The life of the first-year economics major was commemorated through a small reception, followed by a university-wide mass led by Father David Barnes. About 75 people, including students, the Fernandez family, Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore and Dean of Marsh Chapel Rev. Robert Hill attended the ceremony.
“Even though time has passed, I know we all feel Diego’s death as still very near to us,” Barnes said in his homily. “In the Christian life, the candle represents Christ’s light of the world, but it doesn’t immediate expel all darkness. Today, we all feel the darkness, the weight of sorrow, the weight of pain, as we remember Diego’s life.”
Barnes spent most of his homily discussing the significance of the light that emanates from the ceremonial candle in the front of the Church. The candle, a symbol of the omnipresence of the light of the Lord, begins to expel the darkness and the sadness surrounding the loss of life, Barnes said.
“Death seems so final. It seems impossible to believe there is anything beyond that, but that light will shine through,” he said. “As Christians, we believe death is not the last word in Diego’s life. In his soul, that little light will begin to flicker, and there is great power in that light.”
Barnes chose not to speak about the sadness of Fernandez’s tragic death and instead said while Fernandez may not be with us now, his loved ones will be with him again in due time.
“Today I would not attempt to say anything to try to expel the darkness, the sadness and the pain. That’s not the way God works,” he said. “In our mourning, in these days, weeks, months and years, little-by-little the light of the Lord will console us and help us know that we will see Diego again.
Not only was Fernandez active in the BU community, but also in the lives of his friends and family, several students said.
“I knew Diego through the Mexican Students Association. He was the treasurer,” said College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Lorraine Ziegler, who attended the mass. “He was extremely involved. He knew so many people, even as a freshman. He impacted so many people.”
Fernandez was the type of person who people remembered and talked about. He cared for his friends and family, was always there for them and wished for the best for all of them, Ziegler said.
“He always talked about life, the meaning of life and what it meant for us,” she said. “He was truly special. It was wonderful that the parents came. At the reception we were able to show them pictures that Diego had taken, which they had not been able to see at the photo gallery earlier this month.”
Fred Schmidt, a School of Management sophomore who read scripture during the mass, had served on the executive board of BU’s Residence Hall Association with Fernandez.
“It was nice to have everyone together,” Schmidt said. “It was a powerful, emotional experience. Diego was really fun, yet so disciplined at the same time. He knew how to have fun, but he also knew how to be a community organizer and a leader in the community.”
Amanda Oliva, a College of General Studies freshman who attended the mass, met Fernandez through her friends in the Latin community at BU.
“It is still so hard to speak about it, I cared about Diego so much,” she said. “I am here to remember Diego in all of his greatness. Diego was a very special person. He always cared about other people, so it’s only right to show that we cared about him just as much.”