By TAMI QUIGLEY Staff writer
“We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, to make sure that you do not grieve for them, as others do who have no hope.”
The message of 1 Thessalonians 4:13 tells us to grieve with hope – the hope of the risen Christ – and is at the heart of We Are Remembered Ministry, which celebrated its 27th Annual Easter Mass April 4 at St. John the Baptist, Allentown.
“We gather on this Wednesday of Easter week. In the Easter Octave, each day is a celebration of Easter, which cannot be contained in one day,” said Father Martin Kern, principal celebrant and homilist of the evening liturgy and pastor of St. Columbkill, Boyertown.
“We gather to celebrate Christ’s victory.”
Concelebrating were Father James Torpey, advisor to the ministry and instrumental in its founding in the Diocese of Allentown in 1991; Barnabite Father Dr. Robert Kosek, administrator of St. John the Baptist and SS. Peter and Paul, Allentown; and Father Luigi Palmieri, retired to Holy Family Villa, Bethlehem.
Deacon William Urbine, who serves Notre Dame of Bethlehem, assisted.
We Are Remembered ministers to all faiths, parents who have lost a child and all who have lost someone to death under tragic circumstances. All who grieve the loss of a family member or friend are welcome.
A total of 574 names were enrolled and remembered at this year’s evening liturgy, which drew a gathering of approximately 157 people.
Rich and Eileen Badesso, and choral members of Sacred Heart, Bath provided music, including the beautiful song “We Are Remembered,” which Rich Badesso wrote and dedicated to the ministry more than a decade ago.
Women of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Whitehall served cookies and other goodies at the ensuing fellowship, which gave those attending time to share memories of their loved ones and receive a spring flower. We Are
Remembered obtained the flowers from Hickory Grove Greenhouses, Catasauqua and its proprietors, the Eline family, who themselves lost a child.
Before and after Mass those gathered had the chance to sign the Book of the Remembered and write a note to their loved one.
In a homily laced with words both spoken and sung, Father Kern referred to the evening’s Gospel, Luke 24:13-35, the story of The Road to Emmaus, the Gospel which is always part of the annual liturgy.
Father Kern said Jesus made himself known to Cleopas and the other disciple “in the breaking of the bread.”
“Today we walk with those two disciples to Emmaus. They walk with all of us who grieve and mourn,” Father Kern said. “Like Cleopas and his friend, we at times stagger in our grief and wonder why our loved one was taken from our midst.
“Our hearts, still heavy from the events of Jerusalem, are stuck in the suffering that Jerusalem was about while we are trying to get to Emmaus. In the midst of our grieving, the risen Christ comes.”
Father Kern said we know there can be no resurrection without the cross, no harvest without buried seed and no eternity without passing from this life to the next. “But there is hope. In the end, God wins out.”
“Just like Cleopas and his companion, we press Jesus, ‘stay with us,’ and he does.”
Father Kern said Jesus is with us in ways such as through the doctors and nurses who care for the dying, and the compassion we extend to one another, especially in the We Are Remembered ministry that evening.
“And those we remember tonight – he is with us through them.”
“Tonight we have come to break the bread. In this Eucharist, Christ is present,” Father Kern said. “At the altar tonight heaven touches earth. We’re on our own journey to heaven, and along the journey we need Jesus.
“In the midst of our pain and suffering we find comfort in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.”
Father Kern said as we continue on our journeys to Emmaus in our lives with the deep losses of Jerusalem – our loved ones taken from us – “May the light of the faith that unites us tonight help us to recognize God along the way.”
Father Kern said Christ’s promise to us is “My peace I leave with you.”
“He has given us the gift of himself in the Eucharist and his peace he leaves with us … let us know he is alive.”
Addressing those gathered, Father Torpey thanked all involved in the evening’s liturgy, “As we continue to remember all those who have gone before us.”
Father Torpey expressed thanks to the parish of St. John the Baptist and Father Kosek, and especially Father Kern, for “his inspiring words and voice.”
He reminded those gathered to take home a flower from the reception, adding, “We need that in our struggle to obtain spring this year.”
What is We Are Remembered?
We Are Remembered reaches out to people at the time of the death of a child/family member and at the annual Mass, celebrated the Wednesday after Easter, when the Gospel proclaimed is “The Road to Emmaus.”
Father James Torpey is advisor to the ministry. Rich and Eileen Badesso coordinate the mailings/enrollment of names, and provide music for the ministry, available via iTunes.
The late Bishop Thomas Welsh allowed the ministry to begin in the Diocese. It works in cooperation with the Diocesan Secretariat for Catholic Life and Evangelization.
For more information, write to We Are Remembered Ministry, P.O. Box 20082, Lehigh Valley, PA 18002-0082.