Being Catholic

'Go and make disciples of all nations'. ... Jesus is calling you to be a disciple with a mission!
-Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis, Waterfront of Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, XXVIII World Youth Day, Sunday, 28 July 2013

Archdiocese of Boston


66 Brooks Drive, Braintree, MA 02184-3839
Telephone: 617-254-0100
Snow Phone Line – (617) 746-5991

Pastoral Center Information: 

Office/Staff Directory
Bethany Chapel
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Pastoral Center Gift Shop  

It is the goal of the Pastoral Center to remain open during inclement weather unless travel conditions make it hazardous to get to work. In the event the offices are closed or there is a delay in opening, an announcement will be sent out via the IRIS system. In addition, notice will be recorded on the Snow Phone Line –  (617) 746‐5991 – no later than 5:45 a.m.


Parish Spotlight

Our Lady of Fatima
160 Concord Road
Sudbury, MA 01776-2353

Find a Parish In Your Area

Find a Parish in your area
Enter your zip code:

Healing and Bereavement Ministry


A ministry of Consolation and a Peer support Group are effective approaches for parishes to respond to the needs of the grieving. The Health Care Ministry's Bereavement Office can assist parishes with training that includes: the dynamics of grief, contemporary understanding about loss, steps and tasks in establishing a Parish Peer Support Group and placing loss in the context of faith. Please call the office for details.


A ministry of Consolation and a Peer support Group are effective approaches for parishes to respond to the needs of the grieving.  Health Care Ministry's Bereavement Office can assist parishes with training that includes: the dynamics of grief, contemporary understanding about loss, steps and tasks in establishing a Parish Peer Support Group and placing loss in the context of faith.  Please call the office for details.  What about the grief of the ones left behind?  The death of someone we love casts a gloom over our lives.  As believers, we read the gospel for consolation.  There we see that when Christ died, the apostles felt exactly as we feel.  But the risen Christ joined them, opened their eyes and turned their sorrow into joy.  Christ is with us and He will turn our sorrow into joy, if not today, then tomorrow.


Sooner or later everybody has to face the loss of a loved one.  The way to deal with grief is not to run away from it or pretend it's not there, but to face it and work through it with as much honesty and love as we can.  The lesson of the centuries is that suffering must be borne; there is no way out.  If we try to be strong and continually put up defenses, we will end up emotional wrecks and hardened as persons.  Faith should not be used as a barrier against grief.  Sometimes people mistake emotional denial as faith.  But Christ grieved.  "To use faith to suppress legitimate tears is a sort of crime against one's humanity.  To grieve over the loss of a loved one is a truly good and necessary thing." (Michael Quoist)


At a time such as this, people want the minister to share their lives, especially their sorrows.  He may not always have the words to say but he is here.  This ministry to the bereaved lies more in powerlessness than in power; without genuine love and affection, there can be no gesture of solidarity.  The bereavement minister is a sign of the love of God for Hs people and a sign of His presence with them, especially in this time of sorrow.


"Men travel side by side for years, each locked in his own silence or exchanging words which carry little or no fright, until danger comes.  Then they stand shoulder to shoulder.  They discover that they belong to the same family." (Antoine de Saint Exupery).  Death and calamity bring people together as nothing else.  All differences vanish, all barriers fall down.  To the bereaved, the involvement of the community is most appropriate, after all as Christians we believe that we have not only a common dignity, but also a common destiny.  We are members of the people of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, and are destined for the Father's kingdom: 'the life and death of each of us has its influence on others." (Romans 14:7) The continuing presence of the community is of great support and consolation for the bereaved.  There should be a continuing involvement of the community in the weeks and months that follow the loss - when the real grief work has to be done.


"I thought I was doing much better. The pain had subsided. I could laugh again. I was beginning to spend time with friends. My eating and sleeping patterns were back to normal. Then I had to face my first Thanksgiving without him.  I felt the familiar effects of grief wash over me and it was just like the healing process had never even begun.”
- Anonymous

Holidays.  They can be the most joyous or the most painful days of the year.  Holidays are especially difficult if a loved one has died.  By planning ahead and dealing realistically with holiday expectations, you can circumvent some of the holiday sadness and fill those days with peaceful satisfaction.

Accepting and admitting that your loss is going to require adjustment in your life is especially true around the holidays.  Traditions may change, the amount of entertaining you feel like doing may be altered, and your celebration may be somewhat tempered: if you can accept and admit this, you are at a halfway point of being able to enjoy peaceful and relatively pain-free holidays.

Participating in current holiday activities instead of thinking about what used to be, is a good way to begin holiday healing.  Actively plan what you want to do and what you do not want to do; this will prevent you from making decisions under pressure and allow you to say "no" if necessary.  But don't say "no" to everything; be tentative in accepting invitations; offer your host/hostess an honest but brief explanation about how you've been feeling lately that some days are better than others since your loss - and that if you're feeling up to it, you’d love to attend.  It's OK to establish new holiday traditions - a trip with the family, working in a shelter on the holiday, contributing to a favorite charity in lieu of buying gifts - allow your creativity to soar and facilitate your healing.

Preparing for the holidays and getting into the holiday spirit may be difficult; that's OK.  If you're not ready to celebrate this year, don't.  However, if you have small children, you'll need to discuss any holiday changes with them so that they don't feel punished or confused.  They also suffer from a loss and a traditional family celebration might be good for them.  If asked ahead of time, family members can help make the holiday as normal as possible even if you don't feel up to it.  Christmas decorating may seem like more trouble than it's worth, but it will bring warmth into your home.  Let your children, family, or friends help decorate your tree; they'll provide valuable companionship and help make the project a special event rather than a chore.

If you're alone for the holidays, take advantage of the time and pamper yourself Get a book you've wanted to read, write letters, treat yourself to a special meal, or call a friend who might also be alone.  Being alone does not necessarily mean being lonely though - and you may enjoy the time to think and reflect.  If you know in advance that you don't want to be by yourself, plan not to be.  It may mean you call family or friends and suggest an activity, but it's a way for you to let them know you'd like to spend time with them.  Fellowship with others often is the best medicine for a grieving heart.


There's an elephant in the room.
It is large and squatting, so it is hard to get around it.
Yet we squeeze by with "How are you?" and "I'm fine" 
And a thousand other forms of trivial chatter.
We talk about the weather.  We talk about work.
We talk about everything else - except the elephant in the room

There's an elephant in the room.  We all know it is there.
We are thinking about the elephant as we talk.  It is constantly on our minds.
For you see, it is a very big elephant.
But we do not talk about
the elephant in the room.

Oh, please say her name.
Oh, please say "Barbara" again. 
Oh, please, let's talk about the 
elephant in the room. 
For if we talk about her death,
perhaps we can talk about her life.

Can I say "Barbara" and not 
have you look away? 
For if I cannot, you are
leaving me Alone...
In a room.....
With an elephant.

Blessed Are the Sorrowful
In the Process of Grief…They Shall Be Healed

And what does it mean to mourn? I asked the multitude, and an elder stepped forward. To mourn, he said, is to be given a second heart. It is to care so deeply that you show your ache in person. To mourn is to not be ashamed of the tears. It is to be broken, to be built up and to be healed all in the same moment. Blessed are you if you can minister to others with an understanding of your own broken being. Blessed are you if you have a heart that feels, a heart that hurts and a heart that loves. And blessed are you if you can minister to others with a heart that serves and a heart that sees the need before it's spoken. To mourn is to forget yourself for a moment and to get lost in someone else's pain and then to find yourself in the very act of getting lost. To mourn is to be an expert in the miracle of being careful with another's pain. It is to be full of willingness of forever reaching out to and picking up and holding carefully those who hurt. To mourn is to sing with the dying and to be healed by the song and by the death. To mourn is to move forward and to look back. To mourn is to say YES!

Sources compiled and edited from:

Grief. FUNERAL LITURGIES, Flor McCarthy, SDB.  Dominican Publications - Costello Publishing Co, Inc.  Northport, Long Island, 1987.
PASTORAL BEREAVEMENT COUNSELING, Patrick DelZoppo, The Archdiocese of New York, 1987
COPING WITH THE HOLIDAYS: Funeral Home Resource, Bereavement Magazine
WHAT TO SAY ... WHAT NOT TO SAY; Resources, National Catholic Ministry to the Bereaved, Inc, 1995
NEEDS OF A CHILD, summarized from articles of Dr. Alan Wolfelt