Prayer and Relationship with Christ
The death of a family member or friend confronts us with one of life’s most difficult and painful challenges. The Family Life Office serves as a center for the Church’s response to God’s call to comfort those who mourn. The program has a rich history in many parishes throughout the Archdiocese of New York.
Parish-based bereavement support groups, facilitated by trained volunteers, are the cornerstone of our outreach and accompaniment. Our bereavement ministers are lay people, deacons and religious who have been trained in bereavement ministry and who are committed to their work with the bereaved. Many of our volunteers have been called to this ministry through their own experience of loss, while others are very active in parish-based ministry and have recognized the need for programs to support those who are grieving. The support groups typically meet in a parish setting and are open to people of all faiths. While the support groups vary in format and meeting dates, our bereavement ministers’ goal is to provide a safe place where the bereaved can share their experiences with others, learn about the process of grief and be supported by their Church family during a difficult time.
Select a topic to be taken to that section of the webpage:
Adverse Prenatal Diagnosis
Word of Life
Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents
Grieving After Suicide
Support Groups by County
Church of St. Barnabas
409 East 241st Street
Bronx, NY 10470
Church of St. Benedict
2969 Otis Avenue
Bronx, NY 10465
Church of St. Frances de Chantal
190 Hollywood Avenue
Bronx NY 10465
Church of St. Francis of Rome
307 Barnes Avenue
Bronx, NY 10466
Church of St. Helena
1315 Olmstead Avenue
Bronx, NY 10462
Church of St. Mary
106 Jackson Street
Fishkill, NY 12524
*Offers Children’s Group
St. Columba Roman Catholic Church
835 Route 82
Hopewell Junction, NY 12533
Church of Regina Coeli
Two Harvey Street
Hyde Park, NY 12538
Church of St. Kateri Tekakwitha
1925 Route 82
LaGrangeville, NY 12540
Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
11 Mount Carmel Place
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Church of St. Martin de Porres
118 Cedar Valley Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
135 West 31st Street
Church of the Blessed Sacrament
152 West 71st Street
New York, NY 10023
Church of St. Charles Borromeo
211 West 141st Street
New York, NY 10030
St. Monica-St. Elizabeth of Hungary-St. Stephen of Hungary
413 East 79th Street
New York, NY 10075
Our Lady of Sorrows Church
213 Stanton Street
New York, NY 10002
Church of the Epiphany
375 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10010
Our Lady of Good Counsel- St. Thomas More
65 East 89th St. (between Madison and Park)
New York, NY, 10128
Church of the Holy Rosary
41 Windemere Avenue
Greenwood Lake, NY 10925
Church of the Sacred Heart
301 Ann Street
Newburgh, NY 12550
St. Thomas Of Cantebury/St. Joseph Parish
340 Hudson Street
Cornwall on Hudson, NY 12520
Church of St. Stephen
75 Sanfordville Road
Warwick, NY 10990
*Offers Adult’s Group and Adolescent’s Group
Church of St. Columba
27 High Street
Chester, NY 10918
St. Paul’s Church
2800 NY-17K, Bullville, NY 10915
St. Patrick-St.Mary’s- Our Lady of the Lake Church
55 Grand St, Newburgh, NY 12550
Church of St. Lawrence O’Toole
31 Prospect Street
Brewster, NY 10509
*Offers Peri-Natal Group
Church of St. Gregory Barbarigo
21 Cinder Road
Garnerville, NY 10923
Church of St. Margaret of Antioch
115 W Central Avenue
Pearl River, NY 10965
Church of St. Augustine
140 Maple Avenue
New City, NY 10956
Church of St. Francis of Assisi
128 Parrot Road
West Nyack, NY 10994
174 Filors Lane
Stony Point, NY 10980
Church of the Holy Child
4747 Amboy Road
Staten Island, NY 10312
Church of the Holy Family
366 Watchogue Road
Staten Island, NY 10314
Church of the Holy Rosary
80 Jerome Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10305
Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea
5371 Amboy Road
Staten Island, NY 10312
Church of St. Charles
644 Clawson Street
Staten Island, NY 10306
Church of St. Clare
110 Nelson Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10308
St. Ann’s Church
101 Cromwell Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10304
Our Lady of the Assumption Church
17 High St, Bloomingburg, NY 12721
Church of Saint Joseph
242 Wall Street
Kingston, NY 12401
Church of St Mary- St Peter
Kingston, NY 12401
St. Mary’s – St. Andrew’s Church
139 S Main St, Ellenville, NY 12428
845-866-1689 (Facilitator Direct Number)
Church of St. Augustine
18 Cherry Avenue
Larchmont, NY 10538
Church of the Holy Name of Jesus
75 Lispenard Avenue
New Rochelle, NY 10801
Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
559 Pelham Manor Road
Pelham Manor, NY 10803
Church of the Holy Innocents
431 Bedford Road
Pleasantville, NY 10570
Church of the Immaculate Conception
53 Winter Hill Road
Tuckahoe, NY 10707
Church of St. Ann
854 Midland Avenue
Yonkers, NY 10704
Church of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
1377 E Main Street
Shrub Oak, NY 10588
Church of St. Joseph
15 Cedar Street
Bronxville, NY 10708
Church of St. Patrick
137 Moseman Road
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598
Holy Name of Jesus Church
2 Broadway, Valhalla, NY 10595
St. Francis of Assisi Parish
2 Green St, Mt Kisco, NY 10549
Church of the Resurrection
910 Boston Post Rd, Rye, NY 10580
St. Mary’s of the Immaculate Conception
103 S Broadway, Yonkers, NY 10701
The following websites are helpful and provide support for those who are suffering from a pregnancy loss (resulting from an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, still birth, or infant death).
Morning Light Ministry is a Catholic ministry for bereaved mothers and bereaved fathers who have experienced the death of their baby through ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death up to one year old. This Catholic ministry also welcomes bereaved parents of other Christian denominations, bereaved parents of other faiths and bereaved parents of no religious affiliation who are struggling with the very notion of faith.
Elizabeth Ministry provides hope and healing for women and their families on issues related to childbearing.
Adverse Prenatal Diagnosis
The following resources are available for parents who have received a poor or difficult prenatal diagnosis.
Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum by Karen Garver Santorum. Karen Santorum, wife of former Senator Rick Santorum tells the story of their son’s brief 2-hour life, wile expressing the gift of life, family values, the bond between parent and child, the grieving process and the paradox of suffering.
20 Minutes in Eternity by Daniel Dumas. Written from a Catholic perspective, this story is about the journey of a husband and wife whose unborn son is diagnosed with a fatal diagnosis, and their decision to carry him to term.
Be Not Afraid is an online outreach to parents who have received a poor or difficult prenatal diagnosis. The family stories articles, and links within the site are presented as a resource for those who may have been asked to choose between terminating a pregnancy or continuing on despite the diagnosis. These families faced the same decision and chose not to terminate. By sharing their experiences, they hope to offer encouragement to those who may be afraid to continue on.
Prenatal Partners for Life provides support information and encouragement for carrying a baby to term with an adverse prenatal diagnosis and support for raising your child with special needs after birth.
WORD OF LIFE: NOW AND AT THE HOUR OF OUR DEATH
We know earthly death is not the end, but rather the door through which we must pass to gain eternal life. Because of our belief and hope in the Resurrection, we can face death not with fear, but with preparation. Although certainly not comprehensive, the following considerations are provided as starting points for understanding and preparing for this transition, whether it is imminent or not.
We prepare for eternal life by choosing to love and follow God now, in our daily lives and decisions. For example, through prayer and regular reception of the sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist, we obtain grace to live in ever-deeper communion with God and with one another in lives of faith, charity, and justice.2 We ask for Our Blessed Mother’s help now, and we entrust ourselves to her further as we “surrender ‘the hour of our death’ wholly to her care.”3
Our journey with Christ naturally includes equipping our consciences to make morally good judgments and acting accordingly.4 Learning about the dignity of human life and the indispensable respect for it,5 as well as applicable principles for medical care, is particularly important in preparing for our eventual passing.
Some bishops offer guides applying moral principles to local legal options.6 Parish and online resources are also widely available for careful and prayerful study, and the Ethical and Religious Directives from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops give direction for health care services to those who are seriously ill or dying.7
No summary can substitute for thorough catechesis, but some general principles are clear. We are entrusted by God with the gift of life, and in response, we care for our lives and health in obedience and gratitude to our Creator.
This obliges us to make use of appropriate, effective medical care. However, even effective treatments may at times impose such a great burden that we, in good conscience, may forgo or discontinue them. This applies even to life-sustaining treatments. Of course, nothing should be done or deliberately omitted to hasten death.8
The Church affirms the inviolable dignity of every person, regardless of the duration or extent of the person’s incapacity or dependency. Nothing diminishes the unchangeable dignity and sanctity of a person’s life, or the obligation to protect and care for it. In principle, assisted feeding and hydration should be provided unless it cannot sustain life or is unduly burdensome to the patient, or if death is imminent whether it is provided or not.
Moreover, no one should choose suicide, nor counsel or assist another to take his or her own life.
Judging the effect and burden of treatments can be difficult, especially as death draws near. To understand health facts and treatment options, we need professional medical advice. To understand Catholic moral teaching, we need to consult Church teaching and those who can faithfully explain it.
After informing our consciences, we need to inform our families. If we are unable to make decisions, they most often have legal authority to make surrogate decisions on our behalf. Or we may designate a health care agent by a durable power of attorney.
Though it is often helpful to also have written, signed documentation, no living will “check box” can ever replace clear conversations about our faith-guided principles. The best option is to choose an agent who will make medical decisions on our behalf in accord with our Catholic faith and Church teaching.
We should also inform family of our pastoral care preferences, and make clear that after death, we desire prayer, funeral rites, and Christian burial.9
Those who are sick should not be alone, as multiple popes have reminded us in messages for the annual World Day of the Sick. Patients who have serious or life-threatening illnesses, as well as their families, can be provided with physical, psychological, and spiritual care through team-based palliative care.11 Hospice care can provide similar integrated care for those nearing death and for their families.
Pastoral care is integral to both palliative and hospice care, and includes making available the Eucharist, Confession, Anointing of the Sick, and Viaticum.12 It also includes supportive prayer13 and support for decision makers. It may be helpful to familiarize ourselves with local services available in preparation for our own passing or that of loved ones.
Even after death, accompaniment continues. Our prayers can help those who are being purified in Purgatory, so it is a spiritual work of mercy to pray for those who have died.14
Those who die in God’s grace and friendship live forever with Christ. Heaven is not an abstract idea, but a true and lasting relationship with God that is beyond all earthly description and understanding. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead and everlasting life by preparing now, in hope, for our passage from this life into eternal life.
We need not fear. Christ is with us.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition © 2000 LEV-USCCB. Used with permission. Copyright © 2017, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.
Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents
Of all the pains that life can hand us, arguably one of the most searing is the death of a child. As Jesus joined his distraught disciples on the road to Emmaus after his crucifixion, we ask him to join each of us in this ministry as we continue on our difficult journeys from grief to the healing peace that we, like Jesus’ disciples, can find in the Eucharistic community.
To meet the spiritual needs of Catholic parents whose children of any age have died by any cause—no matter how long ago—the Family Life Office offers The Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents. A unique, faith-based program providing spiritual retreats for grieving parents offered by grieving parents, the Emmaus Ministry offers a safe place where one can find peace, comfort, and hope, at least for a time.
For further information about retreats in and around New England, and to find out what happens at retreats, visit www.emfgp.org
The following resources about preventing suicide are available from the Suicide Prevention Team.
Springtide Research Institute (https://www.springtideresearch.org/)
- The Springtide Research Institute focuses on ages 13-26.
- Information for teachers and parents on how to speak to children, with blogs and podcasts (https://www.springtideresearch.org/community/podcast) that feature the voices of young people.
- Offers speakers and consultants.
ADAPP – Archdiocese of New York Drug Abuse Prevention Program
- ADAPP offers suicide prevention resources (https://adapp.org/news/suicide-prevention-information-and-resources/), including a video series (https://suicide-prevention.connectwithkids.com/overview/).
- ADAPP also offers crisis intervention, bullying prevention, and school climate services.
The Respect Life website (https://archny.org/ministries-and-offices/respect-life/) offers curriculum for children (Knowing My Value, Grade 10) (https://archny.org/ministries-and-offices/respect-life/respect-life-week/topics/knowing-my-value/),
Mike Schmitz: The Meaning of Suffering (https://media.ascensionpress.com/video/the-meaning-of-suffering/ ) (and more) videos.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/)
- English (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention)
- Spanish (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/espanol/prevencion-del-suicidio)
New York State Suicide Prevention
GRIEVING AFTER SUICIDE
The following is an exploration of resources on the topic of grief and grieving or offering support to someone who is grieving after the completion of the suicide of a loved one.
- Chris Alar, Provincial Superior of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy Province of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception in the United States and Argentina, author of After Suicide; host of the EWTN show Living Divine Mercy. The following 15-min video explains God’s mercy and suicide, with a highlight of St. Faustina’s Divine Mercy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRaWt4E0r5s&t=625s
- Online reflection of the Very Rev. Dennis R. Schuelkens Jr., V.E., addressing suicide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2b0DUa3Ol0&t=31s. Father explains the Church answer to the question, “Will my loved one go to Heaven?”
- This book is excellent for Catholic Leaders: https://www.avemariapress.com/products/responding-to-suicide. Responding to Suicide: A Pastoral Handbook for Catholic Leaders, by the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers
- When a Loved One Dies By Suicide, by Shoener, Ed and Dolan, John, Ave Maria Press. A book-and-film series that focuses on suicide and the Catholic faith. Complimentary film series (scroll down to the bottom), https://www.avemariapress.com/products/when-a-loved-one-dies-by-suicide. Won the Association of Catholic Publishers “Resource of the Year” award.
After Suicide: There’s Hope for Them and for You by Alar, Fr. Chris
If you read only one book after the suicide of your child, this is it. Fr. Chris gives true hope, both for the salvation of the one who died and healing for those left behind.
My Son, My Son by Bolton, Iris
This book was inspired by the suicide of Curtis Mitchell Bolton, 20-year-old son of the author, Iris Mitchell Bolton. Mrs. Bolton describes in detail the journey she made from the devastation of losing her son Mitch by suicide to the step by step healing that took place in her life. The book is hopeful and helpful to those who have suffered any loss from death, divorce, or separation. It gives promise of recovery and healing and learning to live with the terrible event.
Survivor of Suicide by Robinson, Rita
This revised edition goes into more detail about teen suicide and the help that is available. Survivors of Suicide also dispels the myths surrounding suicide, based on the latest research and interviews with leading medical experts, as well as with family and friends who have survived the suicide deaths of loved ones, and who offer support, knowledge, and comfort to other survivors.
Suicide: A Ray of Hope for Those Left Behind by Ross, Eleanora Betsy
Beginning with her own story of coping with her husband’s suicide, Eleanora Betsy Ross takes the reader beyond the silence and shame often associated with suicide and shatters some of the most pervasive myths surrounding this common tragedy. By examining the dynamics of after-suicide bereavement and using dozens of real-life case histories, After Suicide offers hope for the survivors and helps them maintain their sanity and poise during this most difficult time.
When Someone You Love Completes Suicide by Sexton-Jones, Sondra
Sondra Sexton-Jones’ husband, Ray, died by suicide. In this supportive book, she shares her story, her grief and healing. You’ll learn what to expect, what may happen, how you may feel.
When a Loved One Dies By Suicide by Shoener, Ed and Dolan, John
Offering comfort, hope, and healing for grieving Catholics, these shared stories illustrate that–with faith and loving support–a transformation from a life of intense grief to one of hope and healing is truly possible. Focuses on suicide and the Catholic faith. (This book won Association of Catholic Publishers “Resource of the Year” award.)
Complimentary film series: https://www.avemariapress.com/products/responding-to-suicide
Handbook for Those Who Grieve What you should know and what you can do during times of loss by Auz, Martin M
This valuable resource guide provides practical information for people who are grieving and the people who support them. Material is presented in an easy-to- read format for quick reference and features: Tips for planning funerals and wakes; sample sympathy letters appropriate for a variety of grief situations; “Do” and “don’t” lists for family and friends of the grieving; helpful lists of pertinent planning details; information on helping children grieve; a comprehensive list of publications and organizations that provide grief support.
No Time for Goodbyes Coping with Sorrow, Anger, and Injustice After a Tragic Death by Lord, Janice Harris
Survivors grieving the tragic death of a loved one from accidents, negligence, suicide, murder, and all kinds of traumatic, sudden, and violent losses will find here deep understanding and insight as well as detailed practical information on dealing with legal and financial issues.
Healing a Parent’s Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas After Your Child Dies by Wolfelt, Alan D., Ph.D
Offers 100 practical, action-oriented tips for embracing grief, such as writing a letter to the child who has died; spending time with others who will listen to stories of grief; creating a memory book, box, or Web site; and remembering others who may still be struggling with the death. The guide also addresses common problems for grieving parents, including dealing with marital stress, helping surviving siblings, dealing with hurtful advice, and exploring feelings of guilt.
Where the Hell is God? by Leonard, Richard SJ
This book addresses the age-old question, “How can a loving God permit suffering and injustice in the world?” The answer is spelled out more clearly here than in any books on the subject I’ve read, which include summaries of the writings of St. Aquinas and St. Augustine and of contemporary theologians. The book is short and well written in everyday language.
Grieving with Mary by Doyle, Mary
The ultimate role model for grieving mothers, Mary can provide the peace, comfort, and hope we all seek after the death of our precious children
Now That You’ve Gone Home Courage and Comfort for Times of Grief by Hutchinson, Joyce and Rupp, Joyce
Joyce Rupp is well-known for her work as a writer, spiritual midwife, international retreat leader, and conference speaker. She is the author of numerous bestselling books, including Praying Our Goodbyes, Open the Door, and Fragments of Your Ancient Name. Rupp is a member of the Servite (Servants of Mary) community and the codirector of the Institute of Compassionate Presence. She resides in Des Moines, Iowa.
No One Cries the Wrong Way Seeing God Through Tears by Kempf, Father Joe
“Have you ever found yourself tongue-tied when encountering someone suffering, dying, or having just lost someone close, and reduced to the cliche, I really don t know what to say ? Well, people of faith should have something to say at those sacred, delicate moments. Father Kempf, with grace and sensitivity, helps us learn what to say and do in moments when our people long for a word of hope and consolation.” – Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan
In Memoriam by Nouwen, Henri J.M.
Henri Nouwen shares his intensely personal feelings at the time of his mother’s death . . . a moving account that deepens into a story of a life of faith in which we see the profound relationship between death and faith. In Memoriam is a book that offers a strength and comfort to the bereaved, and significant pastoral value to all who minister to the dying and their loved ones.
The Lord is My Shepherd: A Psalm for the Grieving by Parachin, Victor
The Twenty-Third Psalm is a powerful affirmation that there is an invisible means of support for each of us when we fact the darkest valley of the shadow of death.
The Colors of Grief by De Ciacco, Janis. A.
Understanding a child’s journey through loss from birth to adulthood.