In the fall of 2011, a new committee was established under the Family Life Commission for the purpose of supporting SFX members suffering the death of a loved one. The Bereavement Committee began by inviting parishioners who have experienced a loss in the past year to join in a special remembrance ritual at the 10:30 am Mass on November 6, 2011 to coincide with the Feast of All Souls. Since that time, committee members have been making personal contact with all those who notify the parish of a loss. Resource information on grief support will be available alongside the Book sales. Two annual presentations on grief-related topics will be presented for the parish community. They will provide an opportunity for prayer and reflection for all parishioners and their guests. The November Mass of Remembrance will become an annual tradition. And perhaps most importantly, members of the Bereavement Committee have committed themselves to prayer for any parishioner experiencing a significant loss, regardless of whether or not the details are known to the parish.
Walking in companionship with those who mourn is a call to stewardship and a privilege for those who undertake it. The Order of Christian Funerals (International Commission on English in the Liturgy, Liturgy Training Publications, Chicago, 1989) instructs us that we are responsible for one another and each member of Christ’s body is called to participate in the ministry of consolation: to help the sick return to health, to care for the dying, to pray for the dead, to comfort those who mourn. In Paragraph eight we read: “If one member suffers in the Body of Christ which is the Church, all members suffer with that member” (1 Corinthians 12:26). For this reason, those who are baptized into Christ and nourished at the same table of the Lord are responsible for one another. When Christians are sick, their brothers and sisters share a ministry of mutual charity and “do all they can to help the sick return to health, by showing love for the sick, and by celebrating the sacraments with them” (Roman Ritual, Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum, General Introduction, no. 33).
So too when a member of Christ’s Body dies, the faithful are called to a ministry of consolation to those who have suffered the loss of one whom they love. Christian consolation is rooted in that hope that comes from faith in the saving death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christian hope faces the reality of death and the anguish of grief but trusts confidently that the power of sin and death has been vanquished by the risen Lord. The Church calls each member of Christ’s Body — priest, deacon, layperson — to participate in the ministry of consolation: to care for the dying, to pray for the dead, to comfort those who mourn (OCF, #8).
Members of the Bereavement Committee include Mary Mondello, Joan Smith, Kathleen Tehan, Mary Tychonievich and Mary Ann Wachtel, SFCC. Jane Conrad chairs the committee.
Please contact Mary Beth Erickson at the Parish Center 314-977-7304, or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have experienced a loss.