In this monthly series, different seminarians from Moreau Seminary, Holy Cross’s major seminary on the campus of Notre Dame, will report on life in the seminary. Our first poster, Adam Booth, C.S.C., shares today about his ministry placement working with children and family members who have lost loved ones.
Last Wednesday, Holy Cross celebrated Our Lady of Sorrows, our patronal feast. We celebrated on that day with wonderful liturgy and feasting, but in some ways we celebrate our Sorrowful Mother every day. Every seminarian has a ministry placement each year (and, the Candidate year on, each summer). This year mine is working at Ryan’s Place, a support center for grieving children and their parents and guardians.
Once a week, I spend time with children and teens who have a loved one who has died. I help them tell their stories, their pains and the joys of moving along the journey from the start of grief to a place of acceptance. Sometimes they need to talk, sometimes they work through their grief with play or art. I see little Marys every week, who have felt the sword pierce their heart as they’ve watched the death of a loved one.
With her help, I also try to play Mary’s role each week, standing at the foot of the cross each of these young people are living. My role is not to ‘fix’ them or to solve their problems. We cannot bring their loved one back, but we can be present to them in their grief. We can try to show them that their grief is not something to be side-stepped, but something they need to live through. It is their cross and it hurts in a tremendously gut-wrenching way, but it is also their only hope: by working through the grief, a far deeper love lies waiting to be discovered.
The Liturgy of the Hours describes Mary as “she who without dying has won the martyr’s crown.” The symbol of Ryan’s place is a butterfly: every week we wait to see if a young person will emerge from their cocoon, and we’ll witness resurrection.