In thinking of bereaved families who have passed through our church, a book entitled "Here Comes Everybody, Stories of Church", comes to mind. The book, written by Tim Unsworth, consists of true stories about bishops, priests, and people from all walks of life who had issues and moral dilemmas with our church. At the end of each story their love and respect for our faith turned out to be most important to them. They resolved their issues and as the title proclaims... "Here Comes Everybody", everybody passing through church with all of its rules and regulations, making them even stronger in their relationship with the Lord.
Through life we experience the gift of families and careers. We have great moments, and tragic moments, we have our own story to tell. We are "out there" living our lives, however, when life ends, the majority of people are brought to church where a Mass of the Resurrection is offered for them and as Mr. Unsworth writes, "Here Comes Everybody". At the end of life's journey, everybody goes home to the Lord.
When a member of our parish reaches the end of their life, sympathies to a bereaved family are extended through our Bereavement Ministry. This ministry provides support to families by meeting with them to plan the Mass of the Resurrection. Directing this ministry has been an honor as it is a way to bring Christ's light into a situation that is difficult and painful. The Bereavement Ministry offers assistance to a family at a time when there is little else one can do.
One way the Bereavement Ministry reaches out to our parish is through the Mass of Hope and Healing. Each year this Mass is said for parents who have lost children, any age, through accident, illness, abortion, suicide and for children who are stillborn. If you will be attending this Mass we encourage you to bring pictures as they will be placed on a table and blessed during Mass. We know these situations are devastating and that the pain does not go away. This Mass is designed to help with the healing process, personal issues will not be addressed.
The role of Bereavement Minister is an important one for me as it is an outreach to those in our parish who are grieving and is a way St. Juliana can walk with a bereaved family. A passage from the Book of Isaiah says "Do not be afraid, I will save you. I have called you by name, you are mine" (Isaiah 43:1). These words bring comfort to a grieving family, they are words of hope that bring peace to the bereaved knowing that their loved one is with God. Yes, Lord, here comes everybody, everybody on their journey home to you.
~ Joyce Browne
Contact Joyce Browne (773.631.4127) to reach the bereavement ministry directly.