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Our Next Journey...

Jul 30

Written by:
7/30/2017 12:07 AM  RssIcon

As I write this, I have just come back to the parish office after my fifth funeral in the last two weeks, and there was an additional one celebrated by a visiting priest as well. Four of the funerals were parishioners, two were brother priests (Fr. Bob Buening and Fr. Chris Coleman). To say it has been a difficult two weeks is a bit of an understatement!

Yet we are a people of hope and we view the end of life through the prism of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ; and as we pray in the preface at a funeral Mass, ‘for your faithful, Lord, life is changed, not ended.’ We know that this is not the end of the journey, but just the next step on our own pilgrimage of faith. And we do not make this journey alone, when we gather for a funeral Mass or ceremony, the entire Christian Community gathers with us to join us in prayer and solidarity. And we find comfort and solace in their presence and in those prayers that are shared.

But even with the comfort of our rituals and the prayers of the Christian community, funerals are still difficult. And when six come in the span of two weeks, it can even be difficult for the priest and the parish staff. Admittedly, there for a few days, we were all walking on eggshells around here!

As I was preparing for this last one, I was also thinking about my own journey over the last two weeks, as well. Perhaps the most difficult part of the process for me was that I was grieving the loss of two brother priests when I also had to minister to those who had lost a loved one. And it was a challenge to put my own thoughts and feelings aside so that the needs of these families could come first. From what I was able to pick up, no one in the families were aware of all the other stuff that was going on, so I consider that a win, for sure!

A second lesson for me was the importance of being ready. We cannot know the hour nor the day when the Lord will call us back to His side, so we must live as if it could be at any time. After walking with six families in such a short time to plan for readings and music and other items, I sat down and laid out my own funeral plans: readings were selected, a few of the hymns I would prefer; and as a priest, one of the main items to select is a homilist for your own funeral liturgy. I know this sounds like a weird task, but I know it will take the burden off my family when I ultimately go, and may that day be a long way off!

Finally, one last thought: I am so inspired by the bereavement ministry that happens in these two parishes. No matter who the family is, no matter if that person was someone we all admired like Fr. Bob, or whether it is someone we have not seen in a while; each family and each situation will be treated with the same dignity and respect. And that is how we truly do show the love of Christ to our brothers and sisters who are in need of it most at that particular time.

Pray for the dead, and they will pray for you.

God Bless,
Fr. Kyle Schnippel


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Deacon Ron answers your questions.

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Re: Why do we place a white pall on the casket of the deceased at funeral Masses?
I have been wondering about that. Thank you for explaining it.

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