Varsity Men’s Lacrosse students at Cardinal Gibbons High School were recently presented with an opportunity to serve the community while living the values of their faith through a new ministry. The Cardinal Gibbons Pall Bearer Society was established for students to serve as pall bearers at funerals for the poor, elderly and those who have no one to mourn them, regardless of religion.
“Every person who dies has the right to be mourned, and we as a school have the opportunity through this ministry to live out one of the Corporal Works of Mercy: to bury the dead,’” said Reverend Scott E. McCue, Assistant Principal for Spiritual Life. “This is a real way that we can take the mission of the school out into the community.”
The ministry will be working with Mark T. Higgins and Mike O’Connor of Hall-Wynne Funeral Services & Cremation. Higgins and O’Connor, Catholic funeral directors, are members of Immaculate Conception Parish in Durham. They will coordinate efforts with other local funeral directors who wish to take advantage of CGHS Pall Bearer Society services.
Several parents have volunteered to work with the Society and accompany the students to the funerals. “What struck me about this ministry is that we teach little if anything about death, even in the parochial schools,” said Douglas Zinn, a CGHS parent volunteer. “Learning to respect and care for what families go through in this time is a part of life, and I thought, at their ages, it’s a perfect ministry.”
O’Connor and Higgins trained the first group of CGHS students, and on May 17 they had the opportunity to serve at an actual funeral. Daniel Kuhn of Hall-Wynne was pleased to be able to offer this service to his clients. “Instant relief is the best way to explain what I saw on their faces when I told them about the ministry,” said Kuhn. “The family was so thankful for the service because they did not have enough people to call on their own.”
“This was a new experience for me,” said Zach Millikan, who had not attended a funeral before. “It is a work of mercy that few are called upon to perform. But I was honored to serve this family, and they were touched that we were there to help when there was no one else.”
“This new program integrates skills of students, faculty and parents in serving others,” Jason D. Curtis, CGHS Principal, said. “It is also another way that our mission in Church and community can come alive in the school. Students can continue this work far beyond their years here at Cardinal Gibbons.”