An Infant and Child Remembrance Service and Teddy Bear Tea was held at St. Nicholas Parish in Langley on Feb.18th. Many families gathered at this Mass to honour babies and children gone-too-soon.
At the front of the altar, the Paschal Candle was lit and individual votives were carefully set out for the candle lighting ceremony. The hymns were beautifully led by two young women that made up the intimate choir and the music reflecting hope and healing set the tone for this meaningful service.
This special occasion was celebrated by Rev. John McCarthy, Pastor at St. Nicholas Parish to help support families suffering the loss of a young child. A bereaved mother involved with Elizabeth Ministry at the Parish approached Father about hosting this service and he kindly agreed.
In the homily, Father talked about how our heavenly children are an important part of our families and actively praying for us. As a part of the Communion of Saints, may these little ones help us strengthen our faith as we seek eternal life.
Meaningful Prayer Intentions
After the homily, the following prayers were included to acknowledge the various kinds of loss that guests may be suffering from:
1. We pray for bereaved families mourning the loss of a loved one, especially infants and children; including babies who have died during pregnancy, and at birth.
2. We pray for couples who are struggling with infertility and those trying to conceive.
3. We pray for families who are expecting and those waiting to adopt; as well as families who lovingly chose to give up and/or welcome children through adoption and fostering.
4. We pray for healing for the parents of unborn babies. May they seek God’s peace and receive support in their journey.
5. We also pray for those in our community who may be estranged from others and their faith, may they be welcomed back home.
Healing Flame of the Paschal Candle
Tapers were lit from the Paschal candle and walked to the back of the Church where one by one, the votives were ignited from the original flame. Father John explained that the Pascal candle was a “light in the darkness”, a symbol for hope by our Heavenly Father.
Guests and Parishioners were invited to place the votives on the altar to represent their own personal prayer intention and everyone chose to participate. Many bereaved parents attended Mass and candles were specifically lit for babies who had died.
One couple shared that they had learned about the service just the day before from a local infant loss support group. They had just lost their son two weeks ago and understandably, their grief was still raw. A mother in her 90’s was there to honour three infants whom she had lost more than 60 years ago, “you weren’t to talk about it back then” she explained with tears in her eyes.
Time for Tea…and Teddy Bears
Families were given the opportunity to meet with one another and share their stories in an informal setting at the reception which was decorated with flowers and teddy bears. Guests were greeted by friendly volunteers and freshly baked home-made treats.
To the surprise of many, tea was served in vintage bone china tea cups. This was a family-friendly event and young children happily played together running around with their new teddy bears in hand.
For some, coming to the service was the first step towards healing, “you could just feel how the heaviness and grief lifted during Mass” a Parishioner told me with a warm smile, she herself a bereaved mother. Indeed, there seemed to be a lot of peace in the hearts of those that I met. Many expressed how thankful they were that the special service was offered.
With a program, prayer card and a teddy bear tucked under his arm, a bereaved father asked when the next service will be scheduled, “I’m looking forward to it!” he said with a nod before leaving.
If you are a bereaved family member, please visit littlelightofheaven.com for infant bereavement resources, information about future events and Elizabeth Ministry or email: info(at)littlelightofheaven.com. A Mass at Gardens of Gethsemani Cemetery and a Mother’s Tea in Fort Langley are coming up in March.
Thank you to those that attended, Father John McCarthy and all the Parish volunteers who assisted in various ways at the Mass and Teddy Bear Tea. We would also like to acknowledge private donors, Gardens of Gethsemani Catholic Cemeteries, and Signal Hill for donating items such as teddy bears and treats for the teddy bear reception.
All your contributions made the event extra special and we couldn’t have done it without your support!