The Bethany Bereavement Support Group is a voluntary parish based ministry which aims to help the bereaved and grieving. The name Bethany recalls the visit of Jesus to Mary and Martha on the death of their brother Lazarus. (http://www.bethanyni.co.uk/)
The current chairperson of the waterside based group is Sister Breda. Sister joined the group in 2009 and has been chairperson since 2013
Sister Breda, a native of Cork and Good Shepherd Sister is a trained social worker.
Working with Derry Community Social Services, Sister started a visitation programme in the Gobnascale estate and an advice centre which operated one day a week in the local community centre. She soon realised the area needed an advice centre and with the help of Sister Eilis, another Good Shepherd Sister, and a vibrant local committee, the Family Centre was opened at Jasmine Court in Nov. 1979. This was later renamed Hillcrest House, a vital community resource for the people of Gobnascale and the wider Waterside area.
The purpose of the Bethany Bereavement Support Group is born out of concern for those in the parish who have been bereaved. The Support Group which provides a support, befriending and listening role as parish representatives is part of a national group which operates both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Sister goes through the parish register each month noting the details of the next of kin of those who have been bereaved. The group then meets up once per month and visits are allocated to the members at that point, who always visit in pairs. We visit the next of kin several weeks to a month after the death to see how they are coping and to offer our support. Very often there is a family network to assist the person through this difficult time but for some there may be little or no extended family.
We also help to organize the annual mass for deceased members of the parish and notify by mail those parishioners that we have been in contact with over the previous year. This enables us as a parish to come together to remember our recently deceased and to meet up afterwards in the parish hall for refreshments with all those who have also lost loved ones over the last year. This year the annual mass for deceased members will take place on 13th November at 7:30pm in St Columb’s church and at 7:00pm on 16th November in St Oliver Plunkett Church Strathfoyle.
Sister Breda would like to appeal for new members to assist in this ministry. If you think that you may be interested then why not simply come along to one of our monthly meetings. You can contact Sr Breda by email at email@example.com or leave your contact details in the parish office by phoning 02871342303