What We Do
Of all the pains that life can hand us, arguably the most searing is the loss of a child. A parent’s world irrevocably and horrifically changes forever, no matter what the circumstances or the age of the child.
In what seems to be a manner contrary to the natural order, parents not only have a physical and emotional part of themselves ripped away, but also have the loss of all of the hopes, dreams and aspirations they had so completely invested in their child.
With this loss, a parent’s world radically and dramatically changes forever. Friends, relatives, and acquaintances do not know how to approach or console for fear of offending or upsetting the parent. Many feel that they are treated as if they have a contagious disease. In an attempt to seem normal, or “over it,” emotions are suppressed and the parent begins to withdraw or become distant. This reaction, however, compounds the feeling of being totally alone in this experience.
Many well-intentioned attempts have been made to assist parents in recovering emotionally from their loss, including psychotherapy and support groups. However, in an attempt to be all inclusive and “politically correct”, the spiritual need or even existence of God is absent from many of these methods of treatment. We believe there is no healing without God. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
It was in recognition of this fact and to address these needs that in 2009 we began what has now become The Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents, originally starting as The Pieta Ministry at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, MA. The Shrine in Boston remains our Spiritual Home today.
See our Overview Brochure for a summary of our current offerings.
The Emmaus Ministry permits parents to, as Fr. Roch Niemier, OFM says, “undress their hearts” before God and others who know and feel the pain. Since its inception, this ministry has helped participants initiate, regain, and/or reinvigorate their relationship with God, and so begin the healing process.
As we struggle through the horrendous pain of this journey, we invite Jesus to join and comfort us, just as he comforted his grieving disciples on the road to Emmaus.
Since its beginning, the ministry has served over a thousand parents from twenty six states, Canada and Ireland. Further evidence of the need for this ministry is the repeated requests we have had to bring this program to grieving parents in other areas. To the best of our knowledge, there is no other similar type of ongoing ministry focused on the spirituality of the parent’s grieving process anywhere in the continental United States.
The Ministry has also had a profound effect upon members of the retreat teams. Fr. David Convertino, OFM, our original retreat leader, commented “This was one of the most grace-filled experiences that I have had during my entire life as a Friar.” Fr. Brian Smail, O.F.M. wrote after attending his first Emmaus Retreat “I have to say that Saturday was one of the most significant experiences I have had as a priest and friar. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of it; it was an incredible experience of ministry for me.”
Currently, The Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents offers One-Hour, One-Day,and Weekend Spiritual Retreats. See our current Overview Brochure, Programs and Program Schedule for more information. All programs are offered by Emmaus Parent Companions working together with Catholic Clergy, Religious, Deacons, Pastoral Associates, and Spiritual Directors.
In addition, we are committed to empowering parents and diocesan personnel throughout the United States to bring the ministry to their regions. Currently, we are holding retreats in fifteen states and are working closely with ten Catholic dioceses and archdioceses to either introduce or to expand these programs serving the spiritual needs of grieving parents. For more information on bringing the ministry to your area, call (800) 919-9332.