By Tim Lilley
The Message editor
Bishop Joseph M. Siegel celebrated the Diocese of Evansville’s annual Mass of Remembrance Nov. 3 at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville.
This Mass of Remembrance is offered for families who have lost a child at any age or stage of life; it remembers, celebrates and honors their lives. Parents who attended added their children’s names in a book of remembrance, and they lit candles in their memory that were placed before the ambo at the altar.
Priests concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Siegel included Senior Priest Father Ray Brenner; Senior Priest Father Lowell Will; and Father Varghese Kalaparakudi, Parochial Vicar at St. Philip Parish in Posey County and St. Matthew Parish in Mount Vernon. Deacon Bob Martin served as Deacon of the Mass; Matt Miller, diocesan director of the Office of Worship, served as Master of Ceremonies.
Brett Bueltel served as lector, and the Hamilton family served as gift bearers: Heath and Emily, and their children Leo, Phoebe, Bennett, McCoy and Wendell. Annie-Rose Keith and Diocesan Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Jeremy Goebel served as cantors; Laura McKenzie served as accompanist.
The Diocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life organized the Mass with assistance from Red Bird Ministries.
During his homily, Bishop Siegel said that part of our humanity involves being filled with questions in the midst of great loss. He offered hope that the Mass of Remembrance will help to ease the burden for families who have endured the loss of a child at any age.
Calling death on earth not an end but a beginning, the bishop told families that we believe children are watching over them from their place in heaven. He said that he and the people of the diocese join them in praying for families as they endure the shadow of death.
In closing, he prayed, “Eternal rest grant unto them, oh Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”
The worship aid for the Mass of Remembrance included a reflection from Saint Braulio of Saragossa. It offered, in part:
“Oh death … Your heinous yoe has been destroyed by, ‘I shall be your death.’ And with the words of the Apostle, we, too, deride you: ‘Oh death! Where is your victory? Oh death! Where is your sting?’ Your conqueror redeemed us” (Saint Braulio of Saragossa, Letter 19).
A reception followed the Mass of Remembrance, giving attendees an opportunity to learn more about Red Bird Ministries. It is a nonprofit, pro-life, pro-family Catholic grief-support ministry serving individuals and couples who have experienced the loss of a child at any age, from pregnancy through adulthood. Red Bird helps ordinary families who have been given an extraordinary cross to carry.
Red Bird Ministries exists to help people understand grief and how to navigate through it and, most crucially, how to begin the healing process. For more information on what Red Bird Ministries can do, visit https://www.redbrd.love/.
The Diocese of Evansville Office of Marriage, Family and Life also offers other resources and assistance. Find them online at https://www.evdio.org/miscarriage-resources.html.