A special Mass was celebrated on Saturday, 10th March at Westminster Cathedral for bereaved parents. The Mass was inspired by the experiences of hospital chaplains, support workers and volunteers, who accompany parents during their children’s illness and in times of loss and bereavement. This marks the second year of the Mass being celebrated. Bishop Paul McAleenan was the main celebrant with Fr Peter Harries OP concelebrating.
Fr Peter Harries in his homily addressed parents who may have lost a child at a different stage of life; before or at birth or much later in life, ‘You are full of love and many tears’. The tears of these parents are not hidden from Christ and Christ’s love will help heal their grief.
He reflected, ‘Mary, after the crucifixion held her dead son… in her arms… many have done likewise, with many tears.’ An affirmation of Our Lady consoling the bereaved at every step of their lives as a mother who will see her children through the grief she once experienced herself.
At the end of the homily, Fr Peter asked all the bereaved parents to write the name of their deceased child on the leaf shaped name cards provided. Hospital and hospice chaplains collected these cards and hung them on three trees purposefully erected in pots, symbolic of the tree of life, in front of the sanctuary.
At the end of the Mass, these name cards were taken off the tress and placed in two lanterns which were then processed to the Holy Souls Chapel.
Some attended the Mass on behalf of a friend or family who recently lost a child, while another couple had travelled miles from Southampton to pray for the child they lost last year. Memorial prayer cards were distributed after with the famous carol, Jesus Christ the Apple Tree by Elizabeth Poston, printed on the reverse. Parents and relatives of the bereaved expressed their gratitude to those who made this Mass possible with the hope that it would be celebrated again next year.