Naperville’s Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home Celebrates 25th Memorial Luminary

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Families that have lost loved ones gathered Wednesday night to take part in a long-standing tradition at Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home. This year is the 25th annual Memorial Luminary.

“We are celebrating our 25th annual Luminary. So we invite each family that we serve to come back, and if they wish to decorate a loved one’s bag to walk amongst the bags in fellowship with their families or friends; to decorate their bags, to personalize,” said Friedrich-Jones Funeral Homeowner Stephanie Jones Kastelic.

More than just looking at bags

The event also includes a formal service after families walked around to see the lighten up bags.

“We invite a different clergy person each year to conduct that service, and we have our Naperville memorial honor guard with us to do the three-rifle volley and taps to honor our veterans,” said Kastelic.

The tradition started after Kastelic met a woman at her local church, who honored her son each year in a similar way.

“I attended a grief group at my church at St. Raphael’s and a lady stood up and spoke about what she did to honor her son. She said each Christmas, she would give a bag to neighbors, coaches, teachers, friends and family and ask them to decorate the bag in his honor. She would take the bags to the cemetery and line his grave with them on Christmas Eve every year,” said Kastelic.

How many people and bags?

The healing event that takes place the week before thanksgiving saw a turnout of over 200 people this year along with over 500 bags along the sidewalk.

“Over the course of the year we plan for it and prepare for it. It’s a large-scale program so we really want to engage our families and to see them again, and hope that it’s meaningful for them,” said Kastelic.

Naperville News 17 Patrick Codo Reports.