Ministry to the sick and dying is an essential concern for us as Christians. To visit the sick and to bury the dead are two of the corporal works of mercy included in the focus of this Jubilee Year of Mercy. Our parish’s bereavement ministry tries to be of assistance at the time of death while also seeking to provide ongoing support as time passes.
Let me begin by reiterating the importance of having a priest visit when a person is seriously ill, is on hospice or is in the hospital. Please call the parish office and request that a priest visit the sick person for the Anointing of the Sick, the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (confession) and Holy Communion. Regular visits by an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion can also be arranged.
When death occurs, our bereavement ministry (currently headed by Sr. Jane Hill, SSJ) is available to meet with the family to help prepare the funeral liturgy. Sr. Jane is always looking for additional people to be trained to assist her in this task. I encourage families to have a Mass of Christian Burial offered for the soul of the deceased. Joining our prayers to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest gift that we can give to one of our deceased loved ones.
I am also looking for volunteers to be present for the funeral Mass. People who can help to set up and clean up, to greet any parishioners and visitors, to serve during the Mass, to read the Scriptures (if no one does so from the family), can be a tremendous assistance during a funeral Mass. Those who are retired or senior citizens seeking to get more involved would be wonderful for this task.
As time passes, it is important that those who have experienced the loss of a loved one not fall through the cracks. I know that when I finish one funeral, it seems I begin preparing for the next situation. I need people to help me by following up with a card or a phone call. I want those who may now be alone to know that they are not forgotten. This phase of bereavement ministry can be done right from home! I hope this task is appealing to someone looking to do more for others.
Part of our follow-up is our annual All Souls Day Mass during which we remember all our dead, especially those who died this past year. Please fill out your All Souls Day envelopes with the names of your deceased as they will be placed on the altar for the entire month of November—the month of the Holy Souls.
If any of these phases of bereavement (helping to prepare the funeral liturgy with the family, serving on the day of the funeral Mass, or following-up afterwards) appeals to you, please contact the parish office for further information. We could always use your help in some capacity.
Most importantly, please take the opportunity and encourage others to have Masses offered for the dead. More than flowers that will wither quickly afterward, the spiritual benefits of the Mass are beyond what we as humans can fully comprehend.
Fr. Ed Namiotka