By Sharon Hunt – St. George Bereavement Team

Six months ago, a newly formed Bereavement Team began its service providing support to families of our deceased parishioners. Team members are present for funeral home visitation and vigil prayers, attend the funeral Mass, and on behalf of St. George Parish send a note of sympathy to the family. Our Team maintains connection with grieving families throughout the year particularly near Christmas, Easter and one year following the passing of their loved one.

Coordinating this “ministry of healing” is extremely rewarding. It gives our volunteers graces from three areas: corporal works of mercy (bury the dead), spiritual works of mercy (comfort the sorrowful) and beatitudes (comfort the mourning).  Like many others, I have struggled with grief and mourned losses. Support and love from my own family and my parish family, helped me to move through my grief journey. I have found my strength and along the way a much deeper relationship with God.

Through the mystery of pain and struggle, God invites us to come home in the celebration of Mass where we are closest to our dearly departed. Hurting is part of the human experience; Healing is part of our faith experience.  A question came to mind last fall after attending a Grief Conference, “How can we build the bridge from grief to healing and hope for our parishioners?” A search began for a workshop that integrates our Catholic faith and sacraments into the process of healing and hope. I am grateful for the approval and support received from Fr. John and the Pastoral Team to move forward with a calendar of events to support, connect and educate our community as they work through their own personal grief journey.

We are offering 3 workshops (spring, summer, fall) entitled “Grieving with Great HOPE”. Having facilitated this 6-week workshop, I witnessed the suffering and silent pain of individuals as they attended but as each session unfolded it was evident the weight they carried was being lifted. Transformation was at work. We will also offer other opportunities to gather in support of one another.

Serving in Bereavement Ministry, I have found “it is in giving that we receive”. Parish involvement keeps me rooted in my faith; personal connections are made when attending any number of events offered, conversations are entrusted, friendships are developed, faith is shared, charity is at work, hope is embraced.  As members of the Body of Christ, we are called at Baptism to serve others. Consider how your gifts may be of service in ministry.