By Sinazo Mtshengu, Staff writer
What happens when the homeless die? It’s a question not many consider. When a man or woman with no family, no home and no money dies, who is there to guarantee a dignified burial for them?
This struck a chord with first-time filmmaker Edward Heavrin, who took this question to the streets. Like Heavrin, most people had not given this question much thought because no one really cared enough to think about it.
In 2006, a staff member of Saint Xavier High School heard about a program called the Saint Joseph of Arimathea Society started at Ignatius High School in Cleveland, Ohio, where the school carried out burial services for the poor.
Ben Kresse, a theology teacher at Saint Xavier, said that after hearing about this program, he contacted the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office to get a burial program started at the high school.
The students and staff of Saint Xavier started attending these burials and carried out their first services in April 2006 at River Valley Cemetery. The project has attracted more schools in the greater Louisville area including Trinity High School, Assumption High School, Bellarmine University and Mercy Academy.
The program carries out these burials each week, with all the schools participating. Kresse said there were 39 burials this summer and the program has been able to bury over 1,000 people in seven years. The program at Saint Xavier began with five students and now has more than 250 people involved in the burials, and the school’s club has 150 members.
Heavrin heard about this project from his father who was reading a newspaper and stumbled on an article about Saint Xavier and its Saint Joseph of Arimathea Society program. Heavrin attended one of the burials and realized this story needed to be told.
Heavrin decided to chronicle some of these burials in a film called “The Potter’s Field.”
Heavrin didn’t know anyone who could shoot the documentary. Even though he had no formal training in filmmaking, he decided to shoot this film himself. Heavrin began shooting a documentary he thought would take two weeks but ended up taking three years.
Heavrin said there were many sacrifices in shooting this documentary. He said he did not spend a lot of time with his family or his girlfriend. But he also said he would not change anything.
The film premiered at the Flyover Film Festival this summer at the Clifton Center. Since then, it has been shown at the Kentucky Center of Performing Arts to a full house.
“I have had so many failures in my life. For people to want to see (Potter’s Field) was great,” he said.
Kresse, however, said he feels like the film did not really capture the essence of the program. He said the documentary focused too much on the fact the program buries the homeless when only 30 percent of burials are for the homeless.
“The rest are poor people who cannot afford to be buried or whose families have no way to bury them,” Kresse said.
In addition, the documentary did not include information about Saint Joseph of Arimethea, for whom the program is named.
Kresse said, “There was an absence of why the program was created.”
Kresse said that the community members have been supportive with their donations and their time.
Heavrin is now filming the documentary of young actor Jesse Heiman, called the world’s greatest extra, who become famous for a 30-second advertisement at the Super Bowl for Go-Daddy.
In November, Heavrin plans to screen “The Potter’s Field” at Bellarmine. Check The Concord for information about date and time of screening.
The Bellarmine Scooter Squad Has the Right to Scoot
Bellarmine students and faculty have seen them rolling around since the beginning of the semester: the infamous scooter guys. These boys ride around campus on Razor scooters that you might remember from 6th grade, and they scoot them everywhere. I’ve personally seen them flying down the hill by the dorms, gliding through the quad and even rolling around inside of University Dining Hall.
Apparently, most of these guys you see scooting around are Bellarmine lacrosse players. I spoke with freshmen player Stuart Smith, and his reasoning for the scooters was surprisingly practical.
“All the freshmen lacrosse guys got on campus and were talking about all the hills. We came up with a brilliant idea for the boys to get scoots to roll around campus with,” Smith said.
Personally, I think it’s great. They aren’t bothering anyone, and for some reason, I can’t help but giggle when I hear “let’s go, boys!” and see four guys in a single-file line speeding down the hill towards the quad. It takes a certain level of bravery to zoom past the walking students in the quad on a Razor scooter. They seem to have few inhibitions, which is admirable.
The scooter boys even have their own Twitter and Instagram accounts (bu_scoots). Some of my favorite tweets are:
“Sadly you won’t be seeing the Scoot squad crushing hills . . . This is what happens on rainy days #TheRainNeedsToBounce #westillkillinit”
“If a scoot is cookin’ it down the hill, all we ask is PLEASE don’t scream to us cuz if we turn to look, you can meet us in the hospital”
“I’m gonna be late to class!!! Haaaa, kidding I got a #Scoot”
Some students, however, seem to hate the BU scoot squad. People scoff, roll their eyes or tweet their opinions on how immature Bellarmine students can be. Why all the hate? These guys are just trying to get to class on time. No one frowns upon the people riding bikes to and from class, so what’s the difference with scooters?
“Honestly, we never thought much of it. We just thought it was a more enjoyable way to get around campus. Never thought it would fire up or offend so many people,” Smith said. “To us, it’s just a quick way to get to class.”
The buzz around the BU scoots has been surprisingly negative, and quite frankly, undeserved. Yes, they are drawing attention to themselves, but it’s all in good fun, and like Smith said, they ride them for convenience. If you could find a way to avoid walking the hills of Bellarmine, you would, too. Let the guys have their scooters. However, the guy who rolls around the quad in his “Heelys” is a different story entirely.