Fairfield Alumna Commemorates Those Lost to Covid-19 with Flag Project

Fairfield Alumna Honors Those Lost to Covid-19 with Commemorative Flag Project

Beth Bourque and project co-creator Lynn Lizak-Mercier. [Steve Heaslip/Cape Cod Times]

Beth Bourque, left, and her project co-creator Lynn Lizak-Mercier work their way through piles of flags they are finishing up at Lynn's Alterations and Sew-On shop in Orleans, Mass. The flags were created to remember those whose lives have been lost or changed by Covid-19. [Steve Heaslip/Cape Cod Times]

Massachusetts resident Beth Bourque '83, P'14, a finance major while at Fairfield, was inspired by the Ignatian mission instilled in her through her Jesuit education, to create a unifying symbol acknowledging those lost to the pandemic and to bring comfort to grieving families.

“At Fairfield, the common message is community, being there for others,” said Beth Bourque. “In some small way that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Bourque came up with the idea to make Covid remembrance flags to be a unifying symbol of encouragement, similar to yellow ribbons tied around trees in support of returning troops.

She enlisted the help of a local seamstress, Lynn Lizak-Mercier, to help her create the flags as a way to show concern and compassion for those who lost loved ones to the disease.

“It’s our hope that they will be displayed at homes and businesses all over the country to provide support to the many grieving families who, to date, see only a growing tally in the news,” Bourque said. 

The 10-by-17-inch flag has four blue elastic ties at the corners. Red and white stripes in 100% cotton frame the outline of a heart. The heart is empty space, signifying heartbreak and loss.

The women have made more than 200 Covid-19 remembrance flags so far. They have mailed them to people in New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. They can be tied around trees, hung from porch railings, wrapped around lamps — however people want to display them.

The flags are $19.99, with a percentage of all sales given to Covid-19 relief funds.

“The rest of the funds are put towards the supplies and labor to create the flags,” Bourque confirmed. “We all know somebody and we hope that [the flags] bring comfort. We want people to know that those we've lost aren’t forgotten.”

“If I had to say the most important thing I learned at Fairfield, it’s ‘agape’,” continued Bourque. “I first learned that word and what it meant freshman year from Rev. Thomas G. O’Callaghan, S.J. He explained that it means 'to will the good of another for the sake of the other'. Fr. O’Callaghan went on to officiate at our wedding and baptize our first child. He was very special to my husband and me.  So, I think the message of this project is ‘agape.'"

Original story written by Denise Coffey for the Cape Cod Times.

Tags:  Top Stories,  Alumni Stories


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