Leigh Romanello leads a group of women who coordinate lunches for parish families who are burying a loved one. Team Captains Celia Bisett, Dede Boedeker, Mary Beth Dolan, Teresa Harris, Gayle Long, Kathy Rodgers, and Mini Shaw do the bulk of the work coordinating their teams, making meal plans, ensuring the food is delivered on time and to the correct place.
Leigh and her team captains talk about their experiences in this rewarding ministry.
What do you do in the Funeral Luncheon Ministry?
Leigh: As the ministry leader, usually Father calls me and gives me the phone number of a bereaved family. We prepare a meal and bring it to the family at their home or at the church when they return from the cemetery.
We get a lot of calls and thank you notes from the families. It’s very gratifying. It’s a wonderful thing to offer to our parishioners because the last thing you want to worry about after a funeral is feeding a lot of people. We fix food for over thirty people every time.
Mimi: I think that it’s wonderful that we don’t charge. There’s a parish in Kansas that charges five dollars per person.
Celia: My favorite story happened after we served a meal for eighty people. A person stood up with a hat and said, “We taking up a collection for the ladies who have served us.” I said, “We don’t do this for money, but I’ll take your nice donation to the church office.”
Kathy: The teams are everything.
Have you ever received a phone call or a note from a family months or years later?
Gayle: Maybe not months or years, but I’ve had families contact me after a funeral to ask where they can send a thank you note.
Dede: Or ask for a recipe.
What do you get out of this ministry?
Gayle: I get a lot of joy in serving because it is a very very tough time for a family. It takes a load off them.
Celia: I enjoy the fellowship on my team. There are about twenty lovely ladies on my team. It’s a good feeling of togetherness when we support families that are in stress.
Leigh: It’s nice to hear people say, “This is the first time I’ve sat down to eat in so long. This is the first home cooked meal I’ve had in days.” The teenagers eat and eat and eat. It’s nice for them to have leftovers to take home. The teenagers are more than happy to help carry leftovers out to the car to take home.
Mimi: When families come here, they look tired. They get to sit down, relax, and not worry about cooking a meal.
Kathy: It’s a nice way to show love to families through the church. Lots of times people don’t understand what church can be. It’s a chance to be that for them.
Dede: I love that so often you are personally connected to the person who has died or to the family either because it’s a friend who passed away or it’s a parent. You’ve known these people forever it’s a great way to make connections.