Ministry Matters – Bereavement Ministry

For most of my life, I dreaded going to funerals. I thought they were sad, of course, but also impersonal and boring.

I don’t recall why I agreed to join the bereavement ministry at Christ the King. I can only chalk it up to the Holy Spirit knowing what I needed more than I did. Soon after attending the diocesan training session, I began meeting with families of the recently deceased and planning funeral Masses.

Initially, I saw the bereavement ministry as an exercise in completing a form. Readings. Check. Music. Check. Candles. Incense. Check. Check.

Additionally, I did not feel that my input mattered; as time passed, I began to understand the grace and subsequent healing a Mass of Christian burial can provide. Most importantly, I developed a rock-solid belief in the resurrection and the promise of eternal life. As my faith grew, so did my confidence and creativity.

The art of active listening is most important in the success of this ministry. After meeting with a family and learning about their loved ones, we offer readings and music that reflect their character, spirituality, and life experiences. Those of us in the CTK bereavement ministry are continually amazed by the rich and complex lives of the descendants. We appreciate that each person who attends their funeral has a unique relationship with them, and we strive to provide a Mass that honors those individual relationships and their life in Christ.

It is a joy to explain our faith traditions as they relate to funerals and to plan a personal and appropriate Mass. We, as a church, can offer a Mass that comforts and heals. I pray that every funeral Mass, from start to finish, is a visible sign of God’s love. The time between the death and the funeral day can be sad, hectic, and stressful. It can also be a time of reminiscing, reuniting, and laughter. There is a lot of living going on for those left behind, and it is a privilege to walk with families during this sacred time.

I no longer dread funerals. My participation in this ministry is truly one of the great joys of my life.
Merri Votta