I began my music ministry over 30 years ago
when I joined a music group at Sts Peter and Paul Catholic Church in
Kingston, Jamaica. I continued my involvement in church liturgy when
I came to Toronto in 1976 and joined the parish choir. Later, I
joined a group of guitarists to play and sing at the folk mass.
Occasionally, I was asked to sing and play at weddings and funerals.
Over the past fifteen years I have had increasing requests to sing and play
at funerals. As I became more involved in this special type of
liturgy, I became aware of the tremendous burden and stress families
experience during the initial stages of planning funeral arrangements for a
family member who has died. I saw their confusion, frustration,
despair, helplessness, worry all mixed with feelings of grief and sadness.
When I first witnessed this struggle that grieving families experienced, I
was filled with compassion for them and decided to do something to help
families in similar circumstances in future. I believe my decision
was inspired by the Holy Spirit.
In preparing for undertaking this ministry
to the bereaved, I put together a collection of resource materials
consisting of the following:
- Scripture readings, prayers and
appropriate for funeral
- Outline of the mass or service.
- Format for printed programs.
- Funeral planning guide.
- List of churches, funeral homes
with addresses, contact names
and phone numbers.
In addition, I arranged contacts with
people with expertise in computer graphics to finalize and print the
programs. I also acquired my own complete portable sound system that
I take with me to churches and funeral homes.
The process of ministering to the bereaved
family usually begins when I get a call from a family member. My
first response is to express my condolences and after determining the
nature of assistance required, I arrange to meet with the family at their
home to discuss the funeral plans in detail. I help them to select
the readings, songs and prayers and advise them on the proper procedures to
follow during the liturgy. Throughout the discussions, I try to
maintain a keen sensitivity of their grief and demonstrate empathy and
understanding regarding their loss of a family member. Occasionally,
I will accompany them to meet with the church pastor and funeral director.
If required, I will coordinate a wake
service at the funeral home during the visitation period on the evening
before the funeral mass and also lead the singing at the burial service at
The support I give to the community through
my bereavement ministry is my response to a great need at a very emotional
time for families who find it very difficult to deal with funeral
arrangements while trying to cope with their grief.
I truly believe God has led me to this
ministry and I thank Him for the gift of music that helps to bring some
comfort and consolation to those who mourn.
"Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted." - Matthew 5: 4
"Make me a channel of your
peace, where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope, Where there is
darkness, only light, and where there’s sadness, ever joy." - Prayer of