”How beautiful it would be to have a reminder, a ‘memorial’ as it were, in every diocese during this Year of Mercy, an institutional expression of mercy; a hospital, a home for the elderly, for abandoned children... It would be very good for each diocese to consider: what can we leave as a living memory, as a work of living mercy, as a wound of the living Jesus for this Year of Mercy?(Pope Francis, Prayer Vigil, Jubilee of Divine Mercy, 2 April 2016)
In 2016, the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis expressed this hope – that all dioceses would undertake a permanent project that would be a legacy of the Year of Mercy in their community. The Archdiocese Year of Mercy Working Party (2016) has a vision for the legacy for Sydney – an annual perpetual grant for an ongoing work of mercy.
In consultation with Catholic Cemeteries + Crematoria’s Bereavement Pastoral Care Team, the working party proposed to Archbishop Anthony, the ‘Parish Ministry for the Bereaved’ project. This was to encompass both a spiritual and corporal work of mercy, one where parishes would benefit, and be viewed as a project for evangelisation.
This Parish Bereavement Ministry finds support in the Catholic Cemeteries + Crematoria, Grief Care team. The goal of the project is building bereavement ministry teams in parishes by training volunteers to provide ongoing accompaniment and support for those in the community who are experiencing grief. These trained volunteers assisting the Parish Priest and Parish Pastoral team, in helping to extend the Church, by adding outreach to the beautiful rite and ritual of Christian Funeral and Burial.
The Grief Care team at Catholic Cemeteries + Crematoria, provides loss, grief, and bereavement expertise as well as guidance and mentoring in training grief and trauma informed accompaniment. This outreach has a pastoral, parochial and ecclesial context and provides resources, faith formation and educational opportunities which prepare individuals and communities in care for one another when living with loss and bereavement.
”‘But we do not want you to be uninformed,(1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 18)
Brothers and sisters,
about those who have died,
so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope….
Therefore encourage one another with these words.’
Every person has the potential to accompany each other in our losses, grief, and bereavement. However, many of us face challenges which hinder our immediate capacity to be a messenger of Christ’s consolation.
Some of these challenges are:
- Our own fear of death and the resulting avoidance of uncomfortable realities.
- Lack of understanding of how to respond – ‘what to say and do’
- To be able to ‘be with’ the pain and suffering of grief, which cannot be fixed or taken away.
- Knowing how to best support and assist grieving people during bereavement.
- Understanding how to ‘live’ the reality of death, grief, and bereavement.
- Reconnecting with Parish community after a family death
- Accessing religious and spiritual resources of our faith tradition and parish communities
The Parish Bereavement Ministry can be tailored to meet the diverse needs of each unique parish community. The ministry encompasses the following support outcomes:
- organised home visitation for the bereaved
- faith informed support groups for the parish community
- engagement of parishioners in faith sharing their grief experiences
- Catechesis in ‘Last Things’ – preparing for a good death
- focusing on our belief in eternal life beyond psychosocial education
- supporting current sacramental and pastoral care activities within pastoral planning
- a comprehensive volunteer pastoral care training and grief informed awareness program
- assistance and encouragement of bereaved families in the active preparation of funeral and burial rites (Order of Christian Funerals)
- preparation of memorial masses (40 days months mind and anniversaries of death)
- access to a network within the Archdiocese
- a valid resource for seeking bereavement expertise and further knowledge
- an increased understanding of how our Catholic tradition continues the bond with those who have died.
The core aim of Parish Bereavement Ministry is to encourage and empower the bereaved, to offer support, as people of faith and hope, to others within their local faith community.
”‘Life is not taken away, life is changed.’(Revelation 22: 19).
Coming together in community experiencing loss, grief and bereavement increases our resiliency which in turn can transform despair into hope, fear into courage, abandonment into belonging, providing places of solace and stability where we learn to live with ‘changed relationships.
Bereavement is not about detaching or disbanding our relationship with those who have died; rather, it is deepening and continuing our bond with them, in faith, hope and love. Although we relinquish their physical presence, at the same time we welcome a new spiritual relationship with, in and through the Risen Christ.
If you are having difficulty managing your grief please contact us on (02) 9646 6908 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org