Student, faculty and parishioners of St. Johns gathered near the alter on Thursday evening at 7:30 to share in an Ecumenical prayer service mourning the loved ones they have lost.
“The prayer service was is opportunity for faculty, staff and students to remember those who have passed and also to feel support from the Creighton community,” said David Scholl, coordinator for liturgy for Campus Ministry.
The prayer service offered an intimate experience with the service taking place around the gathering space of the alter of St. John’s. Each participant was given a candle upon entering the space as a symbol of the soul of the departed. Participants were also given the opportunity to write down the name, date of death and something special about the family member or friend who had passed away on a slip of paper. Scholl gave a reading and provided a short reflection about the strength and faith required both to pass away and to continue in life without a loved one.
The Rev. Roc O’Connor S.J. then spoke about why a person needs to mourn. O’Connor lost is own mother 20 years ago and said that he gained insight from this tragic experience.
“I learned a couple things from all that,” O’Connor said. “First, life just goes on as if her dying did not matter. That was amazing to me. Second, only those who had undergone the death of a mother really understood … I discovered that I needed to speak with those who understood. That was healing. Third, I had to talk about her, her dying, and my reactions to it all, even when I didn’t want to. That was ultimately helpful.”
The prayer service continued with O’Connor reading the piece of paper with the deceased’s information for the congregation to hear and then meeting the mourner at the alter to place the candle and the piece of paper on the alter. After a powerful rendition of “Amazing Grace” by the choir, participants were invited to engage in the sign of peace with one another and to then place their candle and slip of paper near one of the side alters as the service drew to a close.
While spirituality is by no means a quick fix for coping with a death, it does make it a little easier, according to O’Connor.
“I think that spirituality, religious traditions and religious practices can help us endure the pain of sorrow and not flee from it all the time … Death is a friend not to be feared,” O’Connor said.