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Diocese to Offer Bereavement Workshop to Parishes

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Father David McBriar, O.F.M., and Dr. Marion Danforth will discuss theology and the mystery of death on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Raleigh. This half-day workshop titled, “Bereavement Ministry: Building a Community of Care,” sponsored by the Diocesan Office of Lay Ministry, is designed for parish leaders as well as those growing a current program.

Presenters will give training in areas such as the dynamics of a grief cycle, developmental issues impacting grief and primary grief tasks. Other topics include the physical, social, emotional and spiritual responses to loss.

“There’s an art to grieving and supporting those who grieve,” said Fr. McBriar, associate pastor at St. Francis of Assisi. “Here’s where the bereavement ministry of a community of faith comes in … you learn what to say and what not to say … when to be silent and simply embrace.”

Dr. Danforth, a pastoral counselor, hopes attendees will gain an understanding of the multiple dimensions of grief. “We are called in faith to care for the needs of our community,” she said. “The parish brings Christ’s healing presence in their witness, care and compassion.”

While some parishes in the Diocese are looking to begin these types of ministries, others have bereavement support in place. At St. Francis of Assisi, there are five volunteers who meet with bereaved families planning funerals. From logistics to helping select hymns, they offer emotional and practical support. “Most of us have lost someone we love and we can remember the struggle,” said Kathleen Owen, coordinator of care and wellness at St. Francis of Assisi. “Loss is cumulative. It never gets easier. The members of our various ministries want to share their gifts as a way of showing support for those in grief.”

For Fr. McBriar, this sharing of support is essential in a community. “The loss of one of us is the loss of all of us,” he said. “Our theology of dying and death is summed up in the affirmation: ‘Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.’”

About the event: Hospitality begins at 9:30 a.m. The workshop starts at 10 a.m. and concludes at 12:45 p.m. This workshop is the first in a series of three. Workshops two and three will take place in 2013. 

Pre-registration is requested. Click here http://www.dioceseofraleigh.org/events/view.aspx?id=3039 for event information and a registration sheet. Or contact the Diocese of Raleigh Lay Ministry office via telephone at 919-821-9715 or via email at bea.callery@raldioc.org. Registration fee is $10 to cover hospitality and materials.