My story of service by Anthony Patterson, Member of the Newry Parish Bereavement Team

Kathleen O'Hare News

In our community, the inevitability of loss is often overlooked until it strikes close to home. With approximately 250 deaths annually our parish, the Newry Parish Bereavement Team plays an indispensable role, assisting with the Funeral Rites of the Church and providing compassionate support to those in mourning.

The Bereavement Ministry has been a vital part of the Church’s outreach in Newry since 2021, allowing laypeople to work alongside clergy in offering solace and guidance during difficult times. My journey with the team began when a friend suggested I attend a meeting. Despite initial apprehensions, I found a welcoming environment and a profound sense of purpose.

We all face the loss of loved ones, and many of us have experienced the deep sorrow that accompanies it. I remember vividly the dark days when death touched my life and how much I valued the compassion extended to me. Drawing from years of working with the Knights of Malta, I am reminded of the Beatitude: “Blessed are those who mourn; they shall be comforted.” This has become a guiding principle in my work with the bereavement team.

Being part of this Ministry has not only enhanced my spirituality but also deepened my connection to the parish community and the clergy. Through appropriate training, I have become more confident and feel valued in providing much-needed support, a listening ear, and compassion to those in my community.

Anthony Patterson

Our work is increasingly important in today’s context, with declining church attendance and fewer vocations to the priesthood. This trend underscores the growing necessity for laypeople to step in, advising on protocols, liturgy, and offering support to individuals whose lives have been upended by bereavement.

I feel truly honoured to contribute to this group, doing what I can to assist those in need during their most vulnerable moments. The gratitude and positive feedback we receive affirm the importance of our presence and dispelled any initial fears I had about joining.

If you feel called to support your neighbours during their times of grief, consider joining us. For more information, visit the Parish Website Directory and tick the appropriate box, or contact any member of the team. Your compassion can make a significant difference in someone’s life.

Anthony Patterson, Member of the Newry Parish Bereavement Team