CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Walking in faith with the bereaved

HONG KONG (SE): The Diocesan Pastoral Commission for Marriage and the Family launched a support programme for bereaved families in January this year.

Run by volunteers who have received training in journeying with people who are mourning a loved one, it is designed to take the bereavement ministry in many parishes a step further.

Paul Lee Chi-kwong, from the pastoral care ministry of the commission, described the bereavement ministry in many parishes as extending only as far as the preparation of the liturgy for the funeral.

However, Lee pointed out that it is really the time after the funeral that families find most difficult to deal with the pain and cope with the regret of losing a loved one, especially in the case of a sudden death when there was no chance to say goodbye.

He said it is important for volunteers to allow the bereaved to look at death with faith and remind them of the hope for eternal life that prayer offers, which can help people to deal with their sorrow.

Lee explained that this service is different from psychological treatment or counselling, as the volunteers simply accompany the bereaved in prayer and meditation, offering the care of the Church community in a concrete fashion.

He added that since the service targeting individuals was launched in January, bereaved families have had the opportunity of joining grief recovery support groups, which will begin in April and run through to December at different locations around Hong Kong.

The training of volunteers was carried out by a consultant in hospice care the commission had invited to conduct sessions in January on the skills and principles of faith-based bereavement counselling or accompaniment.

A series of workshops was also scheduled in March, in which experienced social workers were invited to talk about how to lead a grief recovery support group and introduce resource materials.

He pointed out that 20 volunteers have completed a course organised by the commission and received certificates. Some of the volunteers have already begun offering their services to those in need.

The ministry will also offer related workshops on dealing with bereavement to Eucharistic ministries and the Legion of Mary in parishes, in order to promote an awareness among parish volunteers of the emotional problems that have to be faced at the death of a loved one and equip them with the skills needed to express and communicate their own and the concern of the community to bereaved families.

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