LITURGY MATTERS: Bereavement Ministry

One of the key missionary points for parishes is their contact with the dying and the bereaved.  The Order of Christian Funerals states that the death of a Christian is a significant event for the entire parish community.

For this reason, since 2000 the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has developed and sustained a process of initial formation and ongoing support for those ministering with the dying and bereaved in their parish. This formation process is known as Stepping Stones.

Stepping Stones runs in response to a need expressed by a parish looking to initiate and/or strengthen their ministry with the dying and the bereaved. It proceeds from the principle that the provision of appropriate formation for the baptised, called to ministry by their community, is a matter of justice and integrity: for the lay minister, for the community and for those with whom they will minister. 

The Stepping Stones formation process values:

The dying and the bereaved …
Reflective ministry …
The missionary parish working together   …

Over the past 20 years Stepping Stones has been constantly reviewed and developed in light of the signs of the times, our experience of ministry and our growing understanding of the Order of Christian Funerals.

In 2020 the Diocesan Liturgy Council (DLC) is seeking to establish a new forum that will take responsibility for continuing and renewing the Stepping Stones ministry.

This is one of a number of forums the DLC has established to widen the circle of people involved in liturgical ministry.  Central to this is the imperative to ensure the vitality of all liturgical ministry into the future. Formation is therefore a key component of all forums as is generational change.  The word ‘forum’ also says something about the way these groups gather and operate.

So, if you have

  • Passion for the mission of Jesus
  • ‘Fire in the belly’ for bereavement ministry
  • Capacity for reflective ministry and discernment
  • A desire to accompany parish communities
  • An openness to formation
  • An ability to think creatively and strategically

then I invite you to read the mandate for the Diocesan Liturgy Forum: Stepping Stones. If you feel a call to participate in this Forum, please complete the Expression of Interest electronically by Friday October 30, 2020.


We are hoping to be inundated with interest.  While only some people will be able to be appointed to the Forum, we will stay in touch with the wider circle of people who express interest. Together we hope to find ways to strengthen the mission of Jesus by supporting parishes as they seek to engage the whole community in the ministry of consolation: to care for the dying, to pray for the dead, to comfort those who mourn.

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Louise Gannon rsj Image
Louise Gannon rsj

Louise Gannon rsj is the Diocesan Co-ordinator of Liturgy.