Jospice concert

Jospice had a very successful concert in the Metropolitan Cathedral last Friday raising around £27,000.
We had a coach party from my own parish of Holy Rosary Aintree.

Thanks to all those who supported the concert.

Lay led funerals

Liverpool is the first diocese in England and Wales to formally commission lay people to conduct funeral services. Archbishop Patrick Kelly explains why he has found it necessary to introduce such a change.

In some parishes in the diocese priests are being asked to celebrate over 120 funerals each year. This does not neatly work out to two or three a week, some weeks there can be as many as six or seven.

It soon became apparent from our consultation exercise, entitled Leaving Safe Harbours that the number of funerals priests were being asked to conduct and the subsequent delays for families was an area of real concern.

This has rightly led us as a diocese to question the kind of ministry that we are giving to people at the time of bereavement as well as to look at the stresses that so many funerals cause to priests and parishes.

The Council of Priests has also felt strongly in some parts of the diocese that the need to establish wider lay responsibilities for the celebration of funerals has become so urgent that it is necessary to train and commission lay ministers. This is a further development of the baptismal calling of our lay people. It does not take away from the ministry of the ordained, but helps us to see and understand the priesthood of all those baptised.

In all of this the watchword appears to be ‘appropriate’; which option for a Christian funeral is most appropriate for this occasion, who can most appropriately lead the rites on this occasion, how can it be appropriately shown that the celebration of a Christian funeral outside Mass is a perfectly legitimate and valid means of giving glory to God and commending the individual to God’s goodness and mercy?

In all of this, the preparation of the lay funeral minister is crucial. He or she must be so well versed in the theology and spirituality of the funeral rites of the Church, in the human experience and understanding of the stages of bereavement, and in the collaborative approach to ministering to the bereaved, that their presence will be a positive assistance to the mourners at such a delicate time of their lives.

There has been a ‘pilot’ training course and commissioning of the first 22 lay ministers. The youngest are in their forties, the oldest in their seventies. This commissioning took place at a Mass celebrated with the Carmelite sisters in St Helens in July.

The full article was first published in The Tablet on 1 September 2012. This edited summary is reproduced with the permission of the publisher