Sharing the Sacred Story With Clergy

Date Published: 
May, 2006
Original Author: 
Michael Fronk
Michael Fronk & Associates, Inc., Deland, FL
Original Publication: 
ICFM Magazine, May 2006

How well do you know your clergy? How well do they know you? We need to build trust, share secrets. We just don't know one another; we don't know what one another does.

You don't know what your minister does. You don't know his schedule. You don't know how he works with families.

You also don't know what he's afraid of and I'll tell you what, ministers very often are afraid of death and dying issues. Not oil hove been trained in those issues. Oh, they took a little smathering of pastoral care, but they didn't talk about the other things that go on.

They also have difficulties with their own funerals. I've talked to ministers and their wives in the home about doing prearrangements, and ministers are in more denial than anyone else in the world about this.

Do they talk about preparing their families for death? No. They keep them out of the firey pit. But what they don't do is talk about the journey, the pilgrimage.

Ministers don't know what you do. Recently I was talking to a priest and he said, "You know what I wish the funeral homes had? I don't know if this could be done but maybe they could have a casket that's not as expensive as the other caskets but it would be there so the body could be brought into the church, we could celebrate the Mass, and then the individual could be cremated afterward."

I looked at him and thought, "My word, he's been in this town for four years. I know the funeral directors in my town have this available, and yet they have not shared this with him, so how could he share it with his families?"

The synergy between funeral directors and clergy is just waiting to be tapped. We have to be willing to listen to them, answer their questions. Bring them into your world; let them travel with you. Let them see where their people are taken care of.


This article compiled from an address presented by the author at the 2006 ICFA Annual Convention



judyfaaberg's picture

Some funeral directors hold regular "clergy receptions" right there in the funeral home. They'll have a short presentation, offer some food and drink (yes, more catering!) and lots of time for chatting. Maybe even a tour of the facilities, including the prep room?

How revolutionary would it be if all the funeral homes in a particular market agreed to rotate these social hours among their establishments? And how about bringing in others like hospice workers, social workers from nursing homes, etc.? I know some do this with great success. Nothing makes a team work better together than shared knowledge and experience. In my own experience, once hospice workers actually meet funeral directors and gain some understanding of the value of funeral service, they become less likely to steer families to direct cremation with no memorial services.

Don't forget, funeral directors can learn FROM these other professionals, too!

Lastly, don't leave out cemeterians. Invite your local cemetery folks to your receptions. I've observed for over thirty years the unspoken (and sometimes outright loudly spoken) animosity that perpetually exists between the cemetery and funeral professions). And cemeterians: ditto. Invite the funeral directors to your cemetery and give them the tour.

Judy Faaberg, DP, CCP