Athlone 'Mass of Hope' tonight for those bereaved by suicide

A special mass which is taking place in Athlone tonight will aim to support people and families bereaved by suicide and help them find a sense of hope amidst their grief.

The liturgy entitled “A Mass of Hope for those bereaved by Suicide” takes place in St Mary’s church, Athlone, on Friday, March 31, at 7.30 pm.
This is a new initiative of St Mary’s Parish Council. People from the 17 surrounding parishes in the Midlands are invited to attend.
Speaking about the positive emphasis in the title of the mass, St Mary’s administrator, Fr Declan Shannon, said: “This may be a difficult time for many families, but we hope this mass will give people a sense of hope in their loss.

“The whole focus of the mass will be on the families and friends who have been left behind, because they are the ones who are trying to pick up the pieces, trying somehow to get the threads of their lives back together again.”
It is hoped that individuals and families will gain a sense of comfort, hope and solidarity from gathering with others who have had the same experience of losing a loved one through suicide.

Fr Declan said the hope was that this mass would symbolise St Mary’s parish “putting an arm around” people who have been hurt by suicide.
“I would hope that by celebrating this mass we are creating awareness and helping to take the stigma out of suicide,” he said.

“There was a time in the not so distant past that a person who died by suicide wouldn’t have been buried in consecrated ground. I’d like to think that the church has matured when it comes to that practice. This mass is taking one further step and acknowledging that the pain of suicide is out there and we need to support such people.

This mass is also designed to show support for those who are struggling with mental health difficulties. Ger Tiernan, of the suicide and self harm charity Pieta House, is one those involved in organising the mass and he said the demand for the charity’s services is greater than ever.