Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared regularly in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds BS and MS degrees and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside in Connecticut.
There is “a time to weep … a time to mourn …” the Book of Ecclesiastes tells us.
Monday began that time in a private way for families. It was that day the first of the funerals took place for the children and teachers killed so viciously at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
Tuesday brought the first of the funerals for the children and families at St. Rose of Lima Church, the town’s one Catholic parish, which has a large number of families.
Up to then, major and minor television stations, press, media from across the United States, Canada, Europe and even from as far away as South Korea had been on the scene, beginning shortly after the tragic event happened on Friday.
But one source from the diocese made it known that the parents and the pastor wanted the funerals private, undisturbed. Media would be moved from directly near the church, and police would be on hand to protect the families.
Indeed, police had already been assigned over the weekend to shield each family from unwanted attention.
As for the funerals, this was a time for respecting the families and their wishes. It took the specific public request and maybe even the knowledge of the police presence to make it happen.
This was a time to let the families have as private a funeral as they could inside their church, filled with family, friends and fellow parishioners who knew them and saw them on Sundays or at religious-education classes or meetings or even shopping at the local supermarket.
The funerals were a time for the weary families to mourn in quiet, a time to be at the funeral for their beloved child and know Jesus’ words, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
As Jesus told all of us at the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Very early Wednesday morning, one of Connecticut’s television stations announced that, out of respect for the families, they would not cover any of the funerals. They simply listed when and where each of the services would take place.
Near or far, we can respect the families’ wishes, mourning with them and offering our support, especially through our prayers, as Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, formerly bishop of the Bridgeport, Conn., Diocese, told us and as area pastors also counseled.
Surely priests and pastors around the country said the same to their parishioners at Masses in these last few days. Please feel free to share what your pastors said.
And keep praying. For faith is what brings hope in the midst of such suffering and sadness.