We want to invite you to try Alpha. All are welcome regardless of age. Every session begins with some food, so come along for the first evening and see what you think! Each Alpha has limited numbers.
We begin every session by chatting with one another over food. Then we watch a DVD and hear an interesting talk. After that we divide into groups and discuss some questions raised on the DVD.
A catechist is someone who teaches the principles of religion - Catechism. This could suggest that many of us have this role as we pass on the faith in our families, our friends and our community. But teaching the catechism requires one to know the pure principles as they are expressed within the catholic faith. Most of us will have been influenced for better and sometimes for worse, by the faith we have personally received so before we can speak as a Parish Catechist, it is important to study the Catechism and explore our own belief.
We have three Catechists working within the parish of Clonakilty. Each has completed a two year part time course through the Diocese of Cork and Ross. This course in catechesis has been delivered through a collaboration between the Diocesan Pastoral Care Team and The Maryvale Institute Birmingham.
As Parish Catechists we assist the Parish Clergy in the instruction and preparation for the sacramental programmes within the parish, specifically, the Confirmation, First Holy Communion and First Reconciliation/Confession programmes.
These programmes focus on three areas the home, the school and the church community. Currently, the Parish Catechists concentrate on helping the parents of the children who are presented for sacramental preparation with guidance on the catechism/church teaching surrounding that sacrament. This is to assist the parents to explain the faith to their children and to encourage them in their role as teachers of the faith to the next generation.
The Choir’s repertoire varies from traditional to contemporary sacred choral music.
Our Choir welcomes new members in all sections. Sight reading is not necessary. All you need is an interest in church music and of course a singing voice.
If you are interested, please contact the Choir’s Director of Music and Organist, Pádraig O’ Donovan at (086)1550033.
Each and every one of us has experienced a significant loss in our life, the death of a parent, a partner, a brother, a sister, a child, a close friend. Death knocks on everyone's door and leaves us absolutely devastated.
But there are many other deaths in our lives , ones that we don't always recognise, for instance we have the death of a marriage, when separation or divorce takes place. Ill health can be a huge loss either to oneself or to one's family. When someone is diagnosed with a serious illness, grief begins then for that person and their family. Then we have the loss of employment which brings with it many hardships not always recognised by others. When a family member emigrates, it can bring such loneliness. A miscarriage is such a devastating blow to a couple. These are naming just a few deaths in our lives and they may not always be acknowledged.Each and every one of us has experienced a significant loss in our life, the death of a parent, a partner, a brother, a sister, a child, a close friend. Death knocks on everyone's door and leaves us absolutely devastated.
With any significant loss comes grief, it's like an uninvited guest and we don't know when it will come or when it will go. Grief is the emotional pain that we feel, it's all the inner turmoil and distress inside us. In the beginning we may deny that this death has happened to us. Grief can overwhelm us with sadness even throwing us into depression. It can fill us with anger, and sometimes that anger can become a rage. We can feel so guilty over things we might have done differently. We can be consumed with loneliness, we can fell abandoned and rejected. Sometimes it feels like no one understands our grief, causing us to feel more isolated.
And then there is fear: fear for ourselves and fear for the future. C.S. Lewis in his book "A Grief Observed" said "no one ever told me that grief felt so like fear". It's like a light has been switched off and we are left in utter darkness.
When we grieve, we are letting go of someone or something that was very precious to us.
Grief visits each and every one of us, this uninvited guest may stay a few months or a few years, even longer, while we struggle through all our various emotions. There is no set time for grieving, it's different for each one of us.
Your grief is unique to you, it is your journey. Surrounding yourself with friends who can sit in silence and listen to you, may be helpful for you. Journeying alone can be very lonely.
We cannot avoid grief. When we try to avoid it, we bury it deep within ourselves and it will come back again maybe when we least expect it. And maybe come back with stronger emotions than the first time. The only cure for grief is to work through it and allow yourself to grieve. Grief, when we work through it will change us, we will never be the same again, we become more compassionate towards others, more understanding of others pain.
A support system is a wonderful way to work through our grief. Here we feel understood, listened to and encouraged to talk. Listening to others sharing their grief, gives us the courage to share also. It gives us the freedom to experience our own pain. And all this helps us to live a full life once again.
In our parish here in Clonakilty, we are privileged to have a pastoral team for funerals. We are a team of 6 people who have been trained to participate in this ministry. Our role is to be with the family in their time of grief, to help and to support them, to listen to their needs and to help them plan the funeral of their loved one. We actively participate in all the rituals of the funeral. But we do not replace the priest, we work beside him as we all strive to minister God’s love, and compassion to all who suffer such a loss.
Some years ago I suffered a major loss in my life. It left me feeling totally alone, lost , and with no sense of belonging. I eventually found the support that I needed and I became very involved in an organisation called Beginning Experience for many years. It gave my life a whole new purpose and meaning. When it was time for me to move on, I decided to set up a bereavement group in my own parish, and I was involved with this group for a long time. It was a very rewarding experience, and such a privilege that people allowed me in to their personal grief.
All this changed my life in a way that I never expected, and I often wonder how different my life would be had I not experienced my significant loss. And now years later, while I still feel called to work with bereaved, and in a way I am still involved indirectly in it, I was rather surprised and humbled when my parish priest approached me to become involved in a funeral team that he was planning to set up in our parish. I immediately said yes, as it was like a continuation of grief work which now is so familiar to me.
To become involved in this ministry was by invitation from our parish priest, once he had organised 6 people who were willing to become involved, we then joined with other groups from within our diocese to learn and to develop our skills with compassion and sensitivity. This was a 4 week programme. It was a very gentle programme, very much based on the Scriptures. We were encouraged to look at our fears and anxieties around becoming involved in this ministry. We learned that it is not a counselling service, and that we are not counsellors. Our role is to accompany the bereaved family through the funeral process, to reassure them and to help them plan the funeral Mass.
We each received our own book, called the Order of Christian Funerals. We were made very familiar with this book, its contents and how to use it . this was greatly helpful to all of us. The significance of the Pall was explained, as this was a link between our baptism and death. The final night was given over to the grieving process. We learned that grief is a loss, it reaches to the heart of what it is to be human. Grief is a healthy reaction to loss. And we learned how important it is to listen, to listen with our hearts, to be gentle and kind to those mourning their loved ones. We also learned how we need to look at ourselves, our stories, our faith , our family, these are the lens we look through to others, so that we do not make assumptions. All our losses are companions on our journey.
This new team comes under the heading of Ministry of Consolation, its role that of pastoral teams for funerals. When someone close to us dies, it can affect us deeply, and in the midst of our sorrow and distress we need to make arrangements for a funeral. My role then as a member of a funeral team is to support the family during this very sad and painful time, to listen to their needs and to help them plan the funeral of their loved one, to participate in the prayers in the funeral home or their own home and in the Church. I need to stress that the team does not replace the priest, but we work together to minister God’s love and compassion to those who suffer such a loss.
For a few weeks a notice was placed in our local newsletter informing the parish of this new ministry, always stressing that we do not replace the priest but work beside him. And then in early September 2016, we were commissioned in our parish Church and thus began a new ministry within our parish. There were many questions from our parishioners about this new ministry. Was it necessary to have a funeral team? Who was going to be involved? How were people chosen? How is it going to work? Will there be any priest involved? Can we choose our
own person to officiate at our funeral? What if my family doesn’t like that person? These are just a few of the questions that were asked. What really amazed me was the surprise and curiosity that this new ministry seemed to arouse.
Many times in my younger days, I travelled up the country to funerals of relatives, and the prayers there were always said either by family or by friends and neighbours and all this seemed so natural and right. And in recalling this memory , it helped me to become involved in this special ministry. A few weeks after our commissioning ceremony we had our first team meeting. This was held in our local convent, all six of us attended with both parish priests. We were fortunate that we all knew one another, but we really weren’t sure what to expect and you could say that we were in the dark as to how we would proceed from here. Our parish priest chaired our first meeting. He congratulated all of us for getting involved and told us how excited he was for this very special ministry to be active in our parish. He was looking forward to working with us in this new ministry.
The first task then of this new group was to nominate someone as coordinator of the group. She became the contact person to receive the funeral details. The sacristan would contact her with funeral details as soon as they were received in the sacristy. Then we needed to know how we would introduce funeral duty. It was decided to form a rota, the coordinator was responsible for this rota and we were paired in twos to begin until we gained confidence. After each funeral we chat with our partner, which is a great help to debrief from the role and to discuss if we had any issues arising from it.
We invited our funeral director to a few of our meetings. We discussed with him our new role in this beautiful ministry. He was most supportive of us, he, with his wife and his team still continue to be very supportive of us, which is a great asset to our team. At each meeting we discuss the funerals we were involved in and new ideas are discussed and nurtured. The first idea was to re-introduce the pall, something that had not been used in the parish for many years. An explanation of the meaning of the pall was written and used for funerals until we all got used to it. The pall is placed on the altar rails and the funeral undertaker organises family members to place it on the coffin. Many questions were asked about this in the beginning, what was its meaning, and when explained it was
very welcomed. It is always placed on the coffin with great respect and reverence.
The next change we made was that a funeral team member would place the symbols on the coffin while they were being explained by the priest, and then that we would remove them just before the coffin was blessed after Mass. And our most recent change is a candle which is lit and placed on a small table in front of the altar before Mass. The deceased person’s name is written on it and given to the family at the end of Mass. One member of the family walks down the aisle with the lighted candle directly behind the coffin. This is deeply touching for the family and also for the congregation. They bring the candle home as a memento of their deceased loved one’s funeral. this is probably the most significant change that we have made at the moment.
Each bereaved family is presented with a booklet containing suitable readings for the funeral Mass. We have discovered that in today’s world there can be a lot of confusion and lack of knowledge in how to prepare for the Mass. We invite some members of the family in to the sacristy the evening of the removal of the body to the Church to discuss with them what they want for their loved one’s funeral Mass. We encourage them to choose what they think is most suitable to them. There are quite a few choices in this booklet, so it’s our role to work with them to find what they are most happy with. We also check out the prayers of the faithful with them, if there will be a eulogy and if they will be using symbols.
Because of lack of familiarity with all of this, we now present each family with specific guidelines for the funeral Mass. This paper comprises of space for names of all those who will be involved in their liturgy, their role in it, who is reading and the readings they have chosen. This then is given to the priest who is celebrating the Mass. It makes it easy for the family and for the priest. It helps family members in making decisions sooner when one of us is involved, as their role becomes clearer to them.
One issue that caused us some confusion was funerals that come in from outside parishes, we weren’t sure how to handle them. Was it our role to be involved? We had many discussions around this topic and always wanted to treat them sensitively. Eventually we decided that any funeral that came in to our Church, then the funeral team actively participated in that funeral, otherwise we had no role in them unless specifically asked. It was decided that a letter would be written to all outside parishes and this clarified the situation. Occasionally when someone dies in our local hospital, but not from our area, we are asked to say the Rosary and prayers in the hospital chapel. This happens when the family want to respect and honour the place where their loved may have spent many years. We are always willing to do this.
We have also learned that no two funerals are the same, each funeral is unique and special to that particular family. The real success of our funeral team is the regular monthly meetings, where we can address any problems or issues that may arise in a safe and gentle space. I am really grateful to our parish priests for being so trusting of us, and they are always open to discussing new ideas and always very encouraging and helpful. And I know whenever a family may have a doubt about a funeral team member being involved, they will always reassure that family of the importance of our role in the community.
In the month of November each year, all the funeral teams in the diocese are invited to an evening of renewal. It begins with a prayer service, giving us the opportunity to remember those we have prayed for, and with during the year. This year Bishop Fintan Gavin joined us for our reunion. He spoke to us about the importance of funeral teams within each parish. He said in the past that funerals had become ‘clericalized’ and how pleased he was to see funerals returning to their most natural place, among the laity. He was most encouraging of this beautiful ministry and would like to see more funeral teams being set up within the diocese. It was a very special reunion this year as the ministry of Consolation celebrates 10 years within the diocese.
When the time came for me to attend my first funeral, even though I was accompanied by my local priest, I was hugely nervous, and wondered how I would be accepted by the public, would I say the prayers without faltering? Would my nervousness be noticed by all? When it was time for me to bless the corpse, I was so deeply touched, that this intimate moment was such a privilege, I have never forgotten it. And I feel that same privilege at each funeral that I attend. A few weeks after this particular funeral, a member of her family thanked me for my role in their funeral liturgy. This surely was acceptance. Our first few funerals we were accompanied by one of our local priests for all of the prayers. And as we grew in confidence we then accompanied one another, each one having a partner for support and encouragement. Then the priest joined us for the removal and reception in to the Church.
Unfortunately one of our priests became ill and we had just one priest for quite a while, so the time came for us to say the prayers in the funeral home on our own. By this time, we were reasonably confident of our role and managed quite well, but always knowing that we had a partner for support and our parish priest was just a call away if we needed him.
Sometimes we had a visiting priest filling in and while most were extremely supportive, some found it a little difficult, but as time went on, they too were very accepting of us. In the 3 years that we are now in existence no family has ever totally objected to us that I’m aware of. A small few may have had doubts and expressed these to our priests but it was always sorted and we participated in that funeral. Occasionally one particular team member is asked for, and while we keep to a rota, if it’s a very close friend, or very special circumstances then that particular team member steps in.
Sometimes when I walk in to the funeral home , the people standing around move to one side and go silent, and when this happens I can feel hugely overwhelmed and nervous, but only just for a moment, and very quickly I realise that I am here to serve, to support, and to be present to this particular family during their very sad time of parting with their loved one.
And now, having served in this ministry for three years I ask myself:
I feel privileged and honoured to be involved with a family at this very sensitive and delicate time. I have grown in confidence. I know that preparation for every funeral is essential. I realise the importance of team meetings. Our priests are very much part of our team. It is essential to communicate with the priest on duty for each funeral. It carries a responsibility to properly prepare for each funeral, and it also requires commitment from each of us. I am very aware that no two funerals are the same and we as a team must honour and respect the wishes of each family.
At the moment we don’t go to the home of the deceased just after death. I would like to see this happen to offer our support, and I would like to be able to contact the family a few weeks after the funeral, but we do not always have contact numbers available to us.
My dad died when I was still quite young. His death filled me with a great fear of death and dying. At that time there was nowhere to express one’s grief, so I carried it for many years. Being involved in this ministry has healed that fear, allowing me now to live my life fully. It has given me a great sense of belonging in my parish once again. While parish bereavement is a private and confidential group, my involvement in funeral ministry has put me very much in the public eye, and because of that I am regularly greeted and acknowledged for myself even by people I barely know. I feel I have found “me” once again and I thank God for the privilege of being involved in this beautiful ministry.
--- Carmel Ryan ---
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is a programme within the Parish designed for people who are thinking of becoming Catholics or for those who have been baptised as Catholics but have missed out on Confirmation and Eucharist. It also welcomes those who have been baptised in another Christian denomination and wish to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
There is a Companion Group working within the Parish who share the Faith Journey of the enquirers and support them until they are baptised and beyond. These people do not necessary have all the answers, but are willing to learn and grow in faith themselves. For the Companion Group, it is a Sacred Privilege to accompany others on what is a very personal and spiritual journey. Over the years, they have received many blessings from the people whose enthusiasm for the Faith has been an inspiration and source of hope and joy.
How does it work in the Parish?
What are the stages of the R.C.I.A.?
If you, or anyone you know wishes to become a Catholic, the first step is to contact our parish priest for further information and you will be most welcome.