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Tuesday, 30 November 2021 10:54

'Pause to Remember' ritual honours lost loved ones

Remembrance Ritual candles 550The SVD AUS Province marked All Soul’s Day this month by holding a special Remembrance Ritual for all confreres who lost loved ones during the pandemic and were not able to say goodbye in person.

In the ‘Pause to Remember’ ritual, Provincial Fr Asaeli Rass SVD invited some confreres from different countries to share their experience of loss during the period when people could not return home due to border closures.

“All Souls is a time for remembering and praying for the eternal repose all those we’ve loved and lost,” Fr Rass said.

“This year has been particularly hard on so many people around the world who have been separated from family during times of loss and some of our missionaries have shared in this hardship.”

Fr Clement Baffoe SVD, from Ghana, is assistant priest in Townsville at the Ministerial Region of the Good Shepherd.

During the ‘Pause to Remember’ ritual he shared his experience of learning in June this year that his father was very ill.

“I was asked whether I would be able to come home immediately,” he said.

Unfortunately, that was not possible as Fr Clement is still in Australia on a temporary working visa.

Fr Clement decided to celebrate Mass that day for his dad and his family.

“The Gospel of the day was Mt.8: 18-22. I was shocked to the marrow when Jesus said to the young man who had wanted to go home to bury his father ‘follow me and leave the dead to bury their dead’. Was it coincidence or divine providence speaking to me? I felt it was divine providence,” he said. 

Fr Clement kept in touch with his family almost every day to monitor his father's condition. On his father’s birthday, July 15, Fr Clement was able to speak to him on his hospital bed. He died on July 26.

“Upon reading the message that my dad had passed away, I became very numb,” he said. “I felt regret and disappointment. In fact, I did question why God would bring me here thousands of miles away from home and unable to be with my father in his last days. I felt disappointed because since becoming a priest, I have given the last rites to people, held their hands whilst they die, planned and celebrated their funerals. Unfortunately, I couldn't do any of these for my dad, a man who loved me with his all.”

Fr Clement said his grief has not been easy, but his confreres and parishioners provided great support.

“Although I don't have any biological family around, the Arnoldus Family and my parish community have been very supportive during these times of my storm. They have stood by me and always encouraged me. Above all, Jesus hasn't left my boat in the storm. He still whispers to me "I am with you-Immanuel".”

Fr Clement welcomed the ‘Pause to Remember’ liturgy, saying it gave him the

opportunity to look back and relive those beautiful moments he shared with his father.”

Fr Gilbert Carlo SVD, from India, also shared a reflection during the ‘Pause to Remember’ liturgy.

“My Eldest brother Paul Alex Carlo, who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and other physical ailments for about six years, passed away at the age of 75 years, on the 4th of May 2021,” he said.

“When I received the sad news about the death of my brother, I was deeply distressed. The sorrow was intense in my heart for two-three days. I mourned for about a week and offered Masses and prayers for the repose of the soul of my brother.

“During my daily prayer, mass and meditation I lifted up my sadness to God together with my brother’s family and prayed for strength and comfort. I also prayed for all who suffered and died because of COVID-19 and other natural disasters which eased my sorrow and gave me inner strength and comfort.”

He also thanked all who offered prayers and support during his time of grief.

Fr Viet Nguyen SVD said the death of his mother in Vietnam in August was a big shock to him.

“Due to travel restrictions, I could not travel home to be with my mum in her last minutes and attend her funeral,” he said. “Also, all my family members in the US could not return to Vietnam to be with my mum.”

Fr Viet said it was particularly disappointing for him and his brother who is a priest in the US not to be able to celebrate his mother’s funeral Mass.

“I was so disappointed but one thing I could do at that time was pray,” he said. “The prayers have sustained my faith and my trust in God.”

Fr Viet gave thanks for the creative responses to the COVID lockdown, including the increasing use of platforms like Zoom.

“I tried to connect with my family via Zoom,” he said. “The new communication technology allowed me to be together with all my family members in the US as well as in Vietnam.

“I was so pleased to be able to attend my Mum’s funeral and prayer service online, together with my family members and friends from all over the world.”

Fr Viet said he was grateful for the support he received from the SVD family and friends during his difficult time.

“I would like to thank each one of them for their prayers, support and encouragement,” he said.