Hi, I hope this isn’t in the wrong forum. I wasn’t sure where it should go, honestly.
I’m currently studying abroad in Austria and on Monday, my class is going to tour a concentration camp. Today I found out that we have a “community service opportunity.” Recently a flood washed out a road near the camp and people discovered the ashes of thousands of bodies that had been burned at the camp. The directors of the camp museum have invited us to hold a burial service for the ashes. Our program leader told me today that we will be “saying prayers from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions,” and then we are invited to say a few words each about what the experience means to us.
Immediately I felt very uncomfortable at this idea. I strongly suspect many of the dead were Catholics, as Austria is a very Catholic country and the Nazis took many political prisoners from it during the war. It seems somewhat irreverent to lay these ashes in the ground with the “prayers” of a bunch of non-religious teenagers (I am one of the few religious people in the group). What is the appropriate thing to do here? Aside from the fact that funerals are pretty traumatic for me-- this seems like a possible liturgical abuse. Any help would be great. Thank you!