Dear Parish Family:
I always want to make sure that our parish is a place of welcome and healing for all who enter, not matter who they are or how comfortable they feel being in a church setting. Some people are away from church for various reasons and it is up to us as a parish community not to sit in judgment, but take as our example the “Prodigal Father” and welcome back with open arms those who choose to enter the doors of Sacred Heart Church.
We have had several funerals these past few weeks and for me these are significant times in the lives of families. These are times to welcome and assist in healing as people struggle to accept the loss of a loved one. We try to make people during this difficult time of mourning as comfortable as possible.
Our visual equipment and projecting the Mass parts, music and a picture of the deceased make it as easy as possible for those who have not been to a Catholic service to fully and actively participate in our prayers for loved ones and friends. A special blessing for those not receiving communion or non-Catholic brings comfort and healing for those who come to grieve the loss of their friend or family member. The pleasant invitation to each participant to come forward to read or bring up the gifts assists all in feeling comfortable as they contribute to the memory of their loved one.
Whenever there is a funeral I invite the parish community to attend the funeral to support families in their time of need. How important it is for others to know we are a caring community. In the weekend prayers, I make it clear when funerals are being held so that everyone can pray for those families who have lost a family member. It is wonderful for me to have someone leaving the church ask, “What time is the funeral tomorrow? I’m going to try to make it!”
We are on this faith journey together and it is important for us to know and give the gift of our presence in times of need. It is my prayer that our parish will always be a place of welcome and healing; what a wonderful reputation to have; wouldn’t you say? As we gather for weekend worship make the effort to extend a hand of welcome to all who come to journey with us in faith!