Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bernadette Bailey, Bereavement ministry

Ours is a "Prayer and Presence" Ministry, small in number – four core volunteers, and several who because of age, infirmity or employment are not active participants, but pray at home for those who have died and those who mourn them.

When a loved one dies we call the family to offer condolences, attend the visitation service, assist the family in choosing Mass readings, offer to read at the funeral if family or friends will not be doing this, and, if requested, assist in serving lunch.

Many families cannot cope with all the funeral details and our primary goal is to give them comfort and consolation in their time of numbing grief. Throughout the first year especially, we keep in touch by phone and visits, send Care Notes, and assist at the annual Mass of Remembrance each November.

This is a holy and spiritually-fulfilling ministry. To those who might consider joining us, I would say, "Come and see." We will never know how many hearts and lives we touch; perhaps lukewarm Christians or lapsed Catholics may be led to return home because of the beautiful and comforting Catholic funeral liturgy, a reassuring homily, and the compassionate kindness of our clergy and members.

Before moving here in 1995, I was a member of the Hope and Remembrance Committee at St. Leo the Great parish in Fairfax, Virginia. Monsignor Caverly gave his approval to re-establish a Bereavement ministry here in 1996. Working in this ministry puts me in touch with my own mortality and made easier my own transition from wife to widow.

If you're interested: Want to participate? Call 727-821-7989 or visit the parish office.

Photo by Jane Winstead

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