“I am the way, I am the truth and the Life”.
Jesus’ words were echoed by Fr Ian Taylor as he made an impassioned call to bereaved families during his homily at St Charles Borromeo’s annual candlelight service.
Amidst the challenges consequent to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fr Taylor, and the Ministry of Consolation (MoC) persevered and ensured that the 2020 candlelight service was celebrated as planned on the evening of November 24.
Reflecting on the readings taken from John:14 and Ecclesiasticus 38:16–23, Fr Taylor implored the bereaved families congregated to remember that the way to Heaven is Jesus, the light to Heaven is Jesus, and the truth to Heaven is Jesus.
He cautioned about the many distractions, the many temptations and other things that may seek to derail us but urged perseverance and in fighting the good fight. He offered the counsel of Jesus’s words “My grace is sufficient for you”.
Continuing to engage the congregation, Father talked about purgatory—the place of purification before getting into Heaven. He spoke about unforgiveness and ingratitude and explained the reason and importance of praying for our departed loved ones.
To those grieving, Father reread Ecclesiasticus 38 pointing out that grief can bring on death and encouraged them to continue with their life but not without God.
In closing, Father reminded the bereaved families that they were not alone; they have the Lord as well as the community including the MoC. Reiterating Jesus’ words, he called on everyone to affirm together “I am the way; I am the truth and the Life”.
While the congregation pondered God’s Words, an uplifting rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ filled the air, delivered via our national instrument by Harry Headley. It lifted both mind and spirit in tranquil meditation.
The quiet video presentation that seamlessly followed exhibited pictures of the departed loved ones that no doubt evoked fond memories evidenced by the gentle gestures and expressions.
The order of the Mass continued with the Liturgy of the Eucharist followed by meditation as the Sunday morning choir sang ‘How great Thou Art’, so moving, the congregation rose to their feet with hands lifted on high.
Deepening this spirit-filled assembly, Fr Taylor initiated the healing session praying for any lingering anger, guilt, unforgiveness and other emotional pain associated with the loss of loved ones.
This extraordinarily uplifting experience culminated with the candlelight procession and the release of the lights into basins of water to the beautiful and consoling music of Philip Okafor.
One of the evening’s highlight was Emmanuela Okafor, Philip’s daughter, who unexpectedly raised her voice in song to the music of ‘Way Maker’ to the delight of everyone and a message of love and hope to those bereaved.
Before the final blessing Barbara Wafe, president of the MoC, conveyed heartfelt appreciation to all the persons who contributed to ensuring the realisation of the 2020 candlelight service.
Feedback about the service from one who lost her mother conveyed that “it was exactly what she needed”, stating that she left the service with a sense of comfort and peace and gained a new perspective of the pain of losing her mother.
She felt thankful that her mother lived a full life and was no longer in pain and during the Mass, on learning of the family who lost their young son, she was compelled to put aside her own grief to pray for other families who lost their loved ones.
With the final blessing and the illustrious singing of the choir the congregation departed in joyful praise to the Lord.
—story by MoC member Manuelita Gomez; photos courtesy Barbara Wafe