Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Families Mourn, Remember, Support at First Remembrance Mass for Child Loss

Parents and family members who have experienced the loss of a child attend the first Diocesan Remembrance Mass for Child Loss in early November.
Parents and family members who have experienced the loss of a child attend the first Diocesan Remembrance Mass for Child Loss in early November.

“This morning, we enter not the gates of a cemetery but in a real and theological way, we enter the gates of Heaven through the portal of the Mass. We come to this altar of God for the Holy Sacrifice of Mass, where Heaven and earth kiss and where the heavenly hosts, including the faithful who have gone before us, are still with us.”

These words from Father Paul Clark, JCL, Judicial Vicar for the Diocese and pastor of St. Matthew Parish in Dauphin, were spoken on Saturday, November 4 during the first Diocesan Remembrance Mass for Child Loss. This Mass was for parents who experienced the loss of a child through miscarriage and stillbirth, or after birth as an infant, child, adolescent or adult, regardless of when the loss occurred.

“Today, and at every Mass, we come not to a place of the dead, but to a celebration of life and resurrection,” said Father Clark. “We honor and remember those we have lost with the Mass. It is the highest form of Catholic worship and there is no greater prayer. It is a Mass for the dead, but it is also a Mass for us, the living.”

“At every Mass, Jesus shows up. Every time we pray, He is there, listening. Do not think for a moment that He does not care about your grief. Jesus wants to pierce the depth of your soul and go into those places in it that are the darkest, the saddest, the most wounded. He wants to touch those vulnerable places with his grace,” Father Clark continued.

The original idea for this Mass is a very personal one for Melissa Maleski, Director of the Diocesan Office of Laity and Family.

“My own experience was having a miscarriage,” said Maleski. “I know so many other people that have lost a child. Seeing the trauma of it, people need some kind of support to grieve and heal.”

With a personal understanding of the pain parents face after the loss of a child, Maleski is spearheading the launch of a new ministry in the Diocese, specifically to support, comfort and provide resources to these families.

“Before joining the Diocese, I worked in a parish and went to a ministry conference. That’s where I was introduced to Red Bird Ministries. This ministry is fantastic,” she said. “Their mission is to provide support and resources needed so parishes and dioceses can serve the hearts of their people. So we can walk with those who are suffering.”

Following the Mass, Maleski introduced Red Bird Ministries to those who attended, and she is excited to roll out this ministry Diocesan wide over the coming year. In addition to plans to partner with parishes to develop support communities, this ministry also offers a free app, filled with resources on grieving and honoring the loss of a child.

“When God created us, He gave each of us a wonderful faculty called ‘memory.’ We are a people who remember. The worst thing we can do is forget,” Father Clark said in his homily. “You do not forget them, the Church does not forget them. You still love them; you still greatly miss them beyond what words and tears can ever express; you are still grateful for them and grateful to God for the time you were able to spend with them, although way too short… At this Mass, and at every Mass, the Word of God we hear with our ears and the Word Made Flesh in the Eucharist we taste with our tongues. Both shout boldly to us that that one day, seeing your children again will happen; it is our faith, it is our hope. We ask God to increase that faith and hope in us.”

About Red Bird

Red Bird Ministries exists “to help parents address the profound healing that needs to happen while also honoring the memory of the child throughout their grief journey,” according to its mission statement. This Catholic grief support ministry addresses a specific need, that of the loss of a child.

The ministry is founded and operated by couples who have experience the loss of a child. While a Catholic organization, the ministry serves anyone that has lost a child. A significant number of resources are available for free on the Red Bird Ministries app, available for both Apple and Android systems. The app features daily reflections and prayer resources, mini-courses for parents and families, and online communities to connect with others around the shared journey of loss.

To learn more about Red Bird Ministries, visit them online at www.redbird.love.

(Photo by Rachel Bryson, The Catholic Witness.)

By Rachel Bryson, The Catholic Witness

- Advertisement -spot_img

Submission Deadline

The deadline for submissions to the biweekly Notebook/Parish Obituaries listing is every other Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Please refer to the Publication Schedule for edition dates and deadlines.

Other News