By Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA Executive Director

As darkness becomes more of a presence in our daily lives this time of the year, our liturgical calendar calls us to reflection, remembrance, and anticipation. We Catholics start the month of November with two important feasts, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Many Dignity Chapters honor LGBTQ people and loved ones who have passed from this life in moving liturgies. We celebrate the fullness of their lives, and try to offer some condolence to those who are grieving. It is important that we do this. Even today, there are situations in which sexuality or gender identity is hidden during funerals. And even when the lives of the deceased have been fully acknowledged shortly after their deaths, these November remembrances help us affirm that they remain part of our Communion of Saints. This year, we must also recall the 49 people murdered at Pulse in Orlando, a sobering reminder that LGBTQ people continue to be targeted and subject to violence and threats, both here and around the globe, simply because of our identity. To all Dignity members and friends who have lost spouses, partners, family members, friends, or community members this year, know that your loved ones are in our prayers this month.

As Veterans Day approaches, we also give thanks to those who have served in the military, and to all who have worked to ensure that LGBTQ people can serve openly.  We pray for all involved in current conflicts, and that a deep and lasting peace may come to troubled areas.

One of the most significant memorials observed in November is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), commemorated on November 20. During the first 10 months of 2016, at least 23 transgender people have been murdered in the U.S. This number has been climbing every year. Most of those murdered are women of color, mostly black women. The annual observance of TDOR must become more than another date on our calendars. As people of faith, committed to the dignity of each person, this memorial compels us to work for the eradication of such violence. Visit the TDOR site for a link to events for TDOR.  Also see a related article in this issue of Dateline.

And as the month ends, we are invited to reflect on all the blessings in our lives, and to raise prayers of gratitude.  Thanksgiving is a time Dignity communities often celebrate the ways in which we are family to one another by enjoying a meal together and celebrating the gifts we treasure. At this time, DignityUSA’s Board and staff are always especially grateful for all of you who support Dignity as members, donors, volunteers, and community members. We wish you all a wonderful celebration of Thanksgiving, and a deep sense of the many blessings you experience.

Finally, we urge you to vote in this very important election. So much is at stake, nationally, at the state level, and in local communities. May all who are elected be guided by Wisdom and commitment to the common good. May they further the cause of justice for all people, including the LGBTQ community.