The Value of a Funeral: A Catholic Perspective
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In 1993, the Bereavement Ministry was formed by a small group of parishioners with Monsignor Vincent O’Donohue. They provided support to immediate family members of the deceased in the Parish. This included making a visit to the funeral home and inviting family members to a special memorial mass on the last Saturday of each month. The annual “All Souls Day” mass also began in 1993 remembering all parishioners who did during the past year.
In 1995, Pastor Father Hugh Gibson expanded the responsibilities of the Bereavement Ministry to include taking an active part in the vigil prayer service for the deceased by reading a selected passage from the Liturgy of the Word and to lead the congregation in reciting the responsorial Psalm.
In 2017, our Ministry is carried forward by our Pastor, Father Peter Rowe, Associate Pastor, Father Gregory Schmidt, and Deacon Gunther Eyer. The Ministry is now divided into teams – two members per team. We meet all together once in the Spring and once in the Fall to share experiences and problem solve. When a death occurs, our coordinator, Father Schmidt is notified by the Parish Office. He then informs team members who will assist the family. The team members bring along the Parish “Workbook” which contains selected readings, a checklist for the Liturgy, and a list of appropriate hymns for the funeral Mass.
When assisting at the vigil, the team member will present the next-of-kin with a memorial mass card from the Parish with the date of the next mass in memoriam, at which the deceased will be remembered and prayed for. These memorial masses are scheduled for the last Saturday of January, April, and July at the five o’clock mass. The family of the deceased will be notified by letter, and a follow-up phone call, about the special “All Souls Memorial Mass” celebrated in November for all deceased during the past year. At this special mass, one person from the family is asked to place a rose in a vase as the name of the deceased is read aloud. A team member will place the flower if no family member is in attendance. After Mass, a small reception is provided by the Bereavement Ministry.
Providing families support, love, and prayers of the Parish Community, through the Bereavement Ministry is a gratifying and humbling experience. Please consider joining our ministry and become a team member. An extra friend in times of sorrow, make the future a much brighter tomorrow!
One of the things that we do is to help families plan Funeral Mass arrangements. I have been welcomed into Parishioner’s Homes and heard some of the most wonderful and interesting life histories of deceased Parishioners. Helping a family to choose the readings and music for a Funeral Mass has been an honour and a privilege. Each Funeral Mass has been made special by Fr. Peter and Fr. Greg and has given some consolation to the grieving families.
On November 2nd the Ministry hosted an in memoriam All Souls Mass. This was an opportunity to remember all those Parishioners who had died in the past year. It was my first attendance at this Mass and I found it to be a very moving ceremony.
Many people might think that dealing with death would be difficult. I have found that, whilst it is a sad occasion for a family, it is very spiritual and uplifting.
I would urge others to consider becoming a member.