Friday, June 17, 2005

Blessing for Departing Parishioners

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWhen a parishioner leaves a parish, it is a time of sadness. Yet we also rejoice because they will be ambassadors for us, representatives of Christ to a new community. In a unique way, they are being "commissioned" to spread the Good News they have heard from this community. So we send them with our prayers and blessings.

The Book of Blessings, Chapter 67, offers a brief blessing for departing parishioners, consisting of an intercession and a triple blessing. This brief rite is good to use at the last Sunday Mass with the departing parishioners. At a farewell party or other gathering during the week, the following more extensive blessing adapted by Nick Wagner may be more suitable.

Blessing of Departing Parishioners

Introductory Rites
When the community has gathered, a suitable song may be sung.
The celebrant greets those present.
    In the name of the Father, and of the Son,
    and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,
    and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
    And also with you.

    Brothers and sisters,
    our Lord, Jesus, commissioned the church
    to go out to proclaim the good news.
    We are gathered here to pray for our friends
    as we send them out to serve the Lord
    in new ways and new places.

    The scriptures remind us that God is life
    and God’s love is our strength.
    Let us listen now to God’s saving word.

Reading of the Word of God
A reader proclaims a text of sacred Scripture – Romans 10:9-18.

Members of the parish may share some stories about the departing parishioners, testifying how God has worked through them to enrich the parish community.

The celebrant continues.

    Brothers and sisters, God is the giver of all good gifts;
    let us call upon our loving God in faith.
A reader leads the intercessions.

    Our response is: Lord, hear our prayer.

    For [N. and N.], for Christ our teacher
    to walk with them always, we pray to the Lord.

    For parishioners no longer with us, for Christ our brother
    to be always at their side, we pray to the Lord.

    For our parish of [name of parish],
    for our commitment to the good work begun
    by these fellow disciples of Christ, we pray to the Lord.

    For those who have not heard God’s word,
    for the good news to be proclaimed in every place,
    we pray to the Lord.
The celebrant continues.

    With faith and confidence, let us pray the prayer that Jesus taught us: Our Father…

Prayer of Blessing
With hands outstretched over the departing parishioners, the celebrant leads the following prayer.

    Eternal God,
    look kindly on your servants, [N. and N.].
    We send them forth as messengers of salvation and peace
    marked with the sign of the cross.
    Guide their steps with your mighty arm
    and with the power of your grace strengthen them in spirit,
    so that they will not falter through weariness.
    Make their words the echo of Christ’s voice,
    so that those who hear them
    may be drawn to follow the Gospel.
    Fill the hearts of these, our friends, with your Holy Spirit
    so that they may lead many to you, the Father of all,
    to sing your praises in your holy temple.
    We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Concluding Blessing
The celebrant continues.

    And may almighty God bless you,
    the Father, and the Son, (+) and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    Go in peace to bring the Good News to others
    and to the love and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God.


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