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Grieving Parents Find Hope at Boston’s St. Anthony Shrine

BOSTON — A parent’s world changes forever following the death of a child. Many programs that offer parents assistance in recovering from their loss are well intended, but do not address a parent’s spiritual needs.

That’s where St. Anthony Shrine wants to help.

The Shrine has announced that it will serve as a “home base” for the Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents, a ministry that has helped more than 125 parents in 12 states initiate, regain and reinvigorate their relationship with God.

“St. Anthony Shrine and Ministry Center will serve as the Emmaus Ministry’s spiritual home in Boston,” said Thomas Conway, OFM, executive director of St. Anthony Shrine, in a press release. “I am very happy to announce this expansion of service to grieving parents.”

Bringing Compassion and Presence
Founded in 2009, the Emmaus Ministry has its roots in the Shrine’s Pieta Ministry, which offers similar services. The Emmaus Ministry is absorbing the Pieta Ministry’s programs and will provide retreats, monthly meetings and weekday programs for grieving parents.

Diane Monaghan, founder of both the Emmaus and Pieta ministries, will serve as ministry director, assisted by husband Charley Monaghan. This ministry is particularly meaningful to the Monaghans, who lost their son Paul.

In addition to the Monaghans, John Maganzini, OFM, (shown in photo) will be the ministry’s spiritual leader and James Czerwinski, OFM, will be involved in monthly meetings.

“My friar life and ministry have included many different opportunities to serve God’s people,” said John. “One of the most profound and meaningful ministries has been the invitation to join the Emmaus Ministry’s team as a spiritual assistant. This ministry has brought both ‘compassion’ and ‘presence’ to full meaning.

“As I walk with these parents, I see the face of the compassionate Christ, just as St. Francis and St. Clare saw him in so many women and men that they served,” John continued. “Compassion and presence are among our treasures in Franciscan life. For me, this is truly the ‘road to Emmaus,’ for I have recognized him in the faces of these parents who come to us to experience his compassion and ministry in their grief.”

The ministry’s first one-day retreat at the Shrine will be held Aug. 2, with John and Thomas serving on the retreat team. Interested persons are asked to contact Monaghan at 617-542-8057 for more information.

Reaching Beyond Boston
In addition to reaching out to grieving parents in the Boston metro area, the Emmaus Ministry will continue to help parents outside the city establish similar ministries in their own areas. Together with Emmaus Parent Companions, friars and clergy, programs have been established in Connecticut, Massachusetts and West Virginia.

Several Holy Name Province friars have embraced this special ministry. This June, David Schlatter, OFM, in photo behind image above, served as a retreat team companion for an event organized for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va. He brought with him the “Bells of Consolation” — four large bells, ranging in size from 550 to 3,500 lbs.

“They contributed significantly to the weekend as parents tolled the bells during the opening prayer service and pealed them during the closing prayer service,” Monaghan said. “David also gave a very moving reflection.”

Following the retreat, the Emmaus Ministry received a letter of thanks and endorsement from Bishop Michael Bransfield of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

In December 2013, Thomas Gallagher, OFM, and a group of Emmaus Parent Companions coordinated a one-day retreat at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church in Hartford, Conn. The parish has adopted the ministry and recently announced the next retreat will be held Nov. 1 and led by Tom.

Other friars who have participated in Emmaus Ministry programs include David Convertino, OFM, one of the ministry’s board members, as well as Thomas Hartle, OFM, and Brian Smail, OFM.

More information about the Emmaus Ministry and upcoming retreats is available on the ministry’s website.

 Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.