"The Lord comforts His people and has compassion upon them in their sorrow"
The Consolation/Bereavement Ministry has been present at St. Joan of Arc for over ten years. Its purpose is to serve the families of St. Joan of Arc during the often sad and difficult time following the death of a loved one who is a member of St. Joan of Arc Parish. A member of the Consolation Ministry contacts the family very shortly after the death and offers to meet with the family members to help in planning the funeral liturgy. The consolation minister provides assistance with selecting appropriate scripture readings and music as well as offers suggestions concerning the funeral liturgy and answers questions they may have during this often overwhelming time.
If in a quandary about whether to have a funeral Mass in church or a service at the funeral home, one may want to reflect on the fact that your loved one found a home in the Church and sending them back to God from that home would be most fitting. From the introduction in The Order of Christian Funerals, comes this statement: "At the death of a Christian, whose life of faith was begun in the waters of baptism and strengthened at the Eucharistic table, the Church intercedes on behalf of the deceased because of its confident belief that death is not the end nor does it break the bonds forged in life. The Church also ministers to the sorrowing and consoles them in the funeral rites with the comforting word of God and the sacrament of the Eucharist."
In several instances individuals or couples have decided to plan their own funeral Mass before their death and have asked to meet a Consolation Minister months or years before their death. This would lift some of the burden on their families that follows any death and the family would know for certain the readings and music were truly the choice of the deceased.
The members of the Bereavement Ministry follow-up the Pastor's letter of condolence with a phone call and a visit a week or two after the funeral. It is during this time after many of the family and friends have left, that the family member is coming to grips with the absence and loss of the loved one. The member of the Bereavement Ministry offers a listening ear and sometimes guidance to resources to assist with the practical details that must be attended to. The Bereavement Minister stays in contact as needed or desired for a year with calls and cards.
The Consolation/Bereavement Ministry sponsors the Mass of Remembrance every November 2nd (All Souls Day). They also sponsor a coffee in December before the first holidays for those who have lost a loved one during the year.