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WASHINGTON (RNS) — In 1998, the grief-stricken parents of Matthew Shepard struggled to find a suitable burial site for their son, a 21-year-old college student who was tortured and killed in what was widely seen as an act of anti-gay violence.
They feared his gravesite could become a target for hateful vandalism.
Week - Years - Murder - Shepard - Family
But this week, almost 20 years after the murder, Shepard’s family has finally found a place to lay his ashes to rest: the Washington National Cathedral.
“That (Shepard’s) family would choose the cathedral as a safe and sacred place, where his remains will be safe and where people can come as a pilgrimage destination to remember the power (of his life) … and that we could have his memory and his legacy as part of the fabric of our collective witness to the country, is an honor beyond belief,” said Bishop Mariann Budde, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.
Plans - Shepard - Interment - Ceremony - Oct
The cathedral plans to commemorate Shepard’s interment with a public ceremony on Oct. 26, followed by a private service with the family, according to Thursday’s announcement, which coincided with National Coming Out Day.
While the cathedral will likely erect a public plaque to Shepard for visitors, his remains will be kept in the building’s crypt behind a lock and key, Budde told reporters.
Gratitude - Shepard - Family - Cathedral - Ashes
She expressed gratitude that Shepard’s family would trust the cathedral to protect his ashes.
“If it were an open site anywhere in the country, there’s no guarantee” the remains would be protected, she said. “A lot has changed in...
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