Brock University students gathered to celebrate the life of Katherine Oswald, a Dramatic Arts student who passed away after her battle with cancer on October 30. The candlelight vigil held, November 6 between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. at MIWSFPA was organized by Sara Meshmesh, a second year Broadcasting for Radio, Television and Film student at Niagara College.
The vigil, which provided Brock students a space to celebrate the life and influence of Katharine Oswald, took place in the main lobby of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts where Katharine had most of her classes. Meshmesh, who organized the event, created a Facebook event page that was open invitation. The lights in the lobby were dimmed for the occasion, friends of Katherine provided guests with flameless candles. Additionally, a moment of silence was held and speeches from friends and family were given to commemorate Katherine’s life and influence.
The vigil was attended by many members of the Brock community both within and outside of the Dramatic Arts department with over 85 people being in attendance.
“Katherine touched so many people and I wanted to do something so that everyone could get together and support each other through this difficult time,” says Meshmesh. “Although it’s been hard, sharing memories and being able to see the lasting impression that Katie left on the world was truly amazing.”
Oswald’s family, friends and teachers were in attendance of the vigil. The event allowed the Brock community to have a moment of solidarity in the wake of her passing.
“I think it was beautiful to see the amount of friends and family who came out to celebrate Katherine,” said Tiffany Harrilal, a second year Dramatic Arts student at Brock. “Until now I hadn’t realized how much she’s taught me. Her confidence and positivity was always something I admired so much about her and will always remember her for.”
Katharine Oswald was in her second year at Brock University, having first attended the American Musical and Dramatic Arts Academy (AMDA) in New York City for two years. During her time at Brock, Katherine had participated in the mainstage Gormenghast in November of 2016, performing as the mad butcher Swelter. Along with the mainstage, Katherine had also participated in the One Acts Festival as well as directing a first year Gimme Two performance.
She was known by many students and professors for her enthusiasm, positivity, and ability to commit fully to any roles she took on.
“She beamed with excitement to be part of our department,” Mike Griffin, a Brock instructor who had worked with Katherine on the production of Gormenghast, said in an interview with The Brock News. “She was so full of energy and passion for theatre and her spirit was contagious to everyone she came into contact with. She wanted to do everything and was driven like no student I had ever met.”
As for the vigil itself, many felt it was the kind of spectacle that Katherine would have loved.
“The candlelight vigil was a perfect send off for our own perfect ray of sunlight,” said Aerin LaPointe, a fifth year concurrent education major at Brock and Katherine Oswald’s close friend. “Katherine was the best of all of us, and the drama and love shown by all who attended was a wonderful example of what she brought to our lives. She would of loved it and be [sic] so thankful to everyone who came out to share their love, support and memories.”
Katherine Oswald’s funeral and celebration of life was held on Nov. 12 at Patterson Funeral Home in Niagara Falls.