Caring for Parishioners who have lost a loved one.
Grief lasts a lifetime, but the first year brings the most intense pain and need for support.
"We, the members of the Bereavement Ministry, support the bereaved through contact over the period of a year after their loss, hoping to prevent their grieving alone. The support consists of prayers, phone calls, cards and letters, as well as an invitation to our annual Remembrance Mass. By doing this, we let them know the parish cares and we encourage them to remain (or become) connected with our faith community."
In 1989, Julie Jones, Cel Hope, and Judy Olson, who is a trained grief counselor, with encouragement from Msgr. Delaney, formed our Bereavement Ministry as a parish outreach to members who have lost a loved one. We joined the National Catholic Ministry for the Bereaved in 1995.
Meeting Parish Needs
In a large parish like Holy Name, it was common for people to grieve alone, unacknowledged and unsupported by the parish, mostly because people didn't know of their loss. Contact with family members after the death of their loved one, letting them know the parish remembers and prays for them, can be of great benefit to the grieving family. A member of the Bereavement Ministry "adopts" each bereaved parishioner and supports them during those difficult months in which they reconstruct lives that have been shattered by their loss.
Once a year, close to All Saint's and All Soul's Day, the Bereavement Ministry sponsors a special Mass to remember parishioners or relatives of parishioners who have died in the last year. Each year over 100 people are remembered. A solemn calling of the names of the deceased and lighting of candles in their honor is a highlight of the Remembrance Mass. Family members and friends are invited to the Mass and luncheon afterwards.
How you can help
First of all, pray for all parishioners who are suffering the devastating loss of a person who was an integral part of their life, plans, activities, and dreams. Second, contact the Bereavement Ministry whenever you hear of a parishioner's loss, especially if the deceased is not a parishioner, so that we may know a parishioner's suffering. Third, join us in our mission to personally contact and support each grieving parishioner.
Bereavement Ministry meets on the fourth Thursday of each month, at 4 pm in the Parish Center. A brief prayer is followed by discussion, further training, and support as needed, and "adoption" assignments of a member of the team to each newly-bereaved parishioner. Fall meetings are busy with preparations for the Remembrance Mass.
Training for the ministry
Judy Olson, trained Grief Counselor, and Cel Hope, assisted by the rest of the team, offer training for new members of the Bereavement Ministry. New members become familiar with the grief process and how members of the faith community can support a grief-stricken person through prayer and personal contact. They also learn what to say ( and more importantly what not to say) to people suffering a painful loss. Most members of Bereavement Ministry have lost loved ones, personally gone through the grieving process, and realize from experience the importance of faith support. Videos, handouts, and presentations by Judy keep all members up-to-date and growing in their ability to comfort those who mourn.
New members are always welcome and appreciated. Please call Judy Olson at 672-3336 or Cel Hope at 674-4800 for more information.