Annual Parish Bereavement Mass 2020

Perhaps they are not the stars, but, rather openings in Heaven where the love of our departed ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy  (Eskimo legend)

As the rain poured down and the wind howled hundreds of us gathered in our homes to ‘attend’ our annual Bereavement Mass, which this year was held on Wednesday, 4th November, live-streamed from St Columba’s Church.

The Mass was offered for all those in our parish who departed this life in the previous twelve months, and for their families who mourned their passing and grieved their loss. We were there primarily to support the recently bereaved but also to remember and pray for the happy repose of the souls of all our own loved ones who had died in previous years.

Fr Kevin celebrated the Mass; he began by thanking the online congregation for watching the live-steam, and reminded us we were there to offer support to each other as a parish community.

Fr Kevin gave a thought provoking homily. He spoke about Covid-19 and the restrictions placed which initially allowed 100 people to attend their loved one’s funeral Mass. This number was then reduced to 10, causing a lot of hardship and grief to the bereaved. The numbers yo-yoed after that finally settling on 25 mourners per funeral. This small number is still way too small and has caused a lot of difficulty for the bereaved. However, he stressed that the families were not alone and although the community were not physically present at their loved one’s funeral, they were with them in spirit.

Fr Kevin went on to say that because of the restrictions the annual Mass in St John’s cemetery in August this year had also to be cancelled, as had all the prayers normally said in the cemeteries in the diocese. However priests in every parish attended their own cemeteries and blessed all the graves and prayed for each person buried there. November is the month when we celebrate the holy souls and we are allowed to travel, no matter what the distance, to visit our deceased love-one’s grave. 

He pointed out the importance of remembering our deceased loved ones and no matter how recent or long ago their passing was they are never forgotten. Our memories of them help to keep them alive for us; and we are reminded often of their presence as a thought, a song or smell evokes memories of them in us. As we are remembering our own deceased loved ones on this night he reminded us that we had come together as a community to show our support to the 38 families in our own parish who had lost a loved one in the past twelve months. These deceased loved ones, as well as all the dearly departed whose names had been handed in, had been prayed for at all the Masses being offered by Fr Kevin during the Novena for the Holy Souls.

Fr Kevin then went on to speak about the different stages of grief. The grieving and sense of loss which might never leave, but then acceptance comes with time and this enables a person to reach a stage where they can move on with their life again. No two people grieve alike and it’s so important for people to be allowed to grieve in their own way and in their own time. He assured all present of the support and sympathy of our community.

Marion, our parish secretary, read out the 38 names of our loved ones who had died in the parish over the previous twelve months. During the reading of the names, Fr Kevin lit the white candles representing the parishioners who had died since the previous Bereavement Mass. These candles had the names of the deceased on them. He then proceeded to light the red candles for all our loved ones who had died and he invited the online congregation to light their candles at home.

Following Holy Communion Marion read the reflection Rememberance.

Before the final blessing Fr Kevin thanked everyone for ‘attending’ the online Mass; he thanked Marion, parish secretary, for all the work she did in organising the Mass and notifying the recently bereaved of the Mass. He also thanked her and Jean, our parish organist, for participating in the Mass. 

Normally after the Mass a large number of the congregation would attend the parish centre for tea and sandwiches, but unfortunately because of the Covid-19 restrictions this was not possible this year.  However, we are a resilient people and a people of hope and we pray that next year we will be able to physically celebrate our annual Bereavement Mass and be there in person to support the recently bereaved.


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