October 24, 2017
By Sister Marjorie Lupien
Sister Marjorie (right) with Father John Bucchino at Blessed Sacrament Church in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Six years ago, I became a pastoral minister at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Manchester, New Hampshire. Having been a teacher for many years, I was hesitant going into parish ministry. Within the pastoral ministry role was the funeral ministry.
There are numerous funerals at Blessed Sacrament Parish for all ages, but primarily for elderly parishioners who have passed. My ministry is to meet with families for the preparation of the liturgy and to arrange for a remembrance meal after the funeral. Meeting families in the early stage of their grieving is a challenge because everyone grieves differently. There is no one way to grieve. The families take the task of choosing readings and music very seriously, making selections that fit their loved one’s life.
Memories, a Healing Tool
Near the end of our meeting, I take a few minutes and ask if the family would like to share with me memories about their loved one, a story that is not in the obituary. This is a very precious time for them and for me. They start thinking that death is not the opposite of life, but a part of life. The families want to talk and need a good listener. Sometimes when there is strain within the siblings, it disappears when they connect their cherished memories with each other. They comfort each other in their sadness. Tears become smiles and even laughter. Memories are a wonderful healing tool for grieving people who are beginning to absorb, adjust and accept their separation. Memories keeps the reality of their loved ones alive. It is an awakening of some happy thoughts.
Our pastor, Father John Bucchino, OFM, takes all the information I give him, and he ties it into the scriptures they have chosen and prepares a very spiritual and personal homily. His homily brings spiritual warmth and caring to the grieving hearts of the families.
After six years my fears of this ministry have vanished, and I view the funeral ministry as an opportunity to show compassion and kindness to families in need of comforting.