In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted “ (Mt. 5:4). Jesus knows all too well that grief and sorrow are a part of life for us as humans this side of heaven. The Gospel of John even tells us that Jesus Himself wept upon the death of His friend, Lazarus. And yet He assured us that we were not meant to mourn alone.
Understanding that reality, the Grieving with Great Hope Ministry seeks to be there for those who are in the midst of the grieving process.
“We use the Good Mourning Ministry series, which offers a prayerful, practical, and purposeful approach for us to support those who are grieving,” says Kurt Johnson, a St. John parishioner who has been involved in the ministry for five years. “The ministry is structured to offer those who are grieving a tool kit with which they can move forward.”
When Kurt joined this ministry five years ago, he had recently suffered the loss of his wife. He was having a hard time coping with his new reality.
“A friend of mine suggested I go see Fr. John,” Kurt says. “She thought maybe he could help me — and boy, was she right! Fr. John plugged me into the Grieving with Great Hope program, and it has been life-changing.”
The program is open to all who are grieving a loss — the death of a loved one, the loss of a marriage, or the loss of a job. Anyone grieving any type of loss is welcome to participate. It is an eight-week program wherein participants pray together, listen to a presenter, and/or watch a short video on living through grief, and then they spend time in group discussions — listening and learning from one another.
“It requires active participation in much the same way that grief itself requires active participation,” Kurt says. “That’s not to say participants are ever pressured to talk. They can be as vocal or as quiet as they want.”
However, the listening and learning elements are key to gaining the insight and the coping skills with which to move forward in life amidst the grief.
What’s more, Kurt says that the community provided through the program is a priceless support for those who are grieving. In fact, Kurt has made many lifetime friends through the program. He even met his current wife Dorlene during one of his first Grieving with Great Hope meetings. The impact that this program has had is invaluable.
“Getting involved in this program has led me to many more ministries within the parish,” Kurt says. “It helped me see that I needed to realign my priorities. I needed to put God first, my family and friends second and everything else after that.”
With that, Kurt is happily living a fruitful fulfilling life after loss, and he encourages all of us in the midst of great pain and suffering due to loss to consider participating in the Grieving with Great Hope program when in session. Meetings take place every Thursday at 6 p.m. in a conference room off the gathering space at St. John, and all are welcome. They are currently in the midst of an eight-week session, but you are welcome to come whenever!
“We have had many people come mid-session,” Kurt says. “You can’t schedule grief, and you can’t tell someone when they need to be ready for something like this.”
So, if you are experiencing life after loss, simply come!
For more information about the ministry, contact ministry coordinator Rita Lowery at 918-331-8984.