By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
ROSEMONT – “A Time to Mourn: A Workshop on Grief and Loss,” will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Rosemont Chapel of St. Thomas of Villanova Parish in Rosemont.
Sponsored by the Archdiocese’s Family Life Office, the workshop is geared to guide parish bereavement team members, assist those who are planning bereavement outreach in their parishes and support those who are in the midst of grief or who have experienced grief in the past.
Separated and spanorced outreach teams, hospital and homebound visitors, Elizabeth teams and others wishing to be involved in any outreach related to grief are also welcome.
“All life has value,” said Tara Plymouth, coordinator of Family Life Ministry for the Archdiocese. “The Church can offer hope, healing, comfort and reassurance through its sacraments and through conferences like this where people can network with others who have experienced grief, or who are in grief ministries, to help each other to help others.”
The keynote speaker is Kathleen O’Hara, a Philadelphia Catholic and psychotherapist whose general private practice includes a specialization in grief and bereavement.
Her talk will include how she has coped with the 1999 murder of her college-age son, Aaron Land, who attended the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio.
“As a Catholic, I’m very fortunate because I do have a strong belief in the resurrection of Christ,” O’Hara said. “Therefore, even though my son died really in the most violent way, I do believe that after such a death there is peace and there is resurrection and he is with Christ.”
Her son’s suffering and death are constant reminders “that life doesn’t end in death, that our life here is temporary and that the eternity happens after we leave the body,” O’Hara said.
“We cannot celebrate the resurrection without going through Good Friday first. There is no Easter flower without the cross of the crucifixion.
“And because I believe that he still lives, I am able to deal with each day and try to make the best I can with life.”
All suffering can bring redemption, she added. “Aaron’s suffering has certainly helped to strengthen my faith and has taught me a lot about redemption. And so I try to help others realize that even in the most horrible circumstances, our loved ones go to Christ and are with Christ and that we can find peace in that.”
O’Hara will also highlight how courage, hope, faith, optimism, humor, patience, joy and compassion can help those who are bereaved. “Sometimes people lose their faith temporarily, but if they have the courage to get up, to get out of bed, to try…then they can find the other things like hope, and they can reclaim their faith.”
An alumna of St. Bartholomew School and St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls, both in Northeast Philadelphia, O’Hara belongs to St. Francis of Xavier Parish in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia.
Although O’Hara recognizes the fact that some who are grieving may be reluctant to go to such a workshop, she says it can make a difference. “They might find something that can actually help them, or some inspiration, or just the willingness to go forward – and that there is help and people do understand,” O’Hara said.
Prior to the workshop, Mass will be celebrated at 9 a.m. at the Chapel of St. Thomas.
For more information, call 215-587-3516 or e-mail email@example.com.
To access a registration form online, visit the web site www.archphila.org/evangelization/famlife/famlife.htm.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.