September 2, 2011

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Even after death, there is peace beyond understanding

Shirley Vogler MeisterNot too long ago, a Criterion staff member sent me two books that the newspaper received.

They both deal with death. One book is Peace Beyond Understanding: Consoling One Another by Father Terence P. Curley.

Father Curley has ministered extensively in grief ministry for three decades. He is a licensed mental health counselor, writer and lecturer, and has served as president of the board of directors for the National Catholic Ministry to the Bereaved in St. Louis. His workshops have been presented throughout the country.

Father Curley wrote his book for Catholic parish staff members as well as funeral directors and planners.

I read it as a Catholic who—thank God!—has not had much personal experience with how funerals are planned. However, I have attended many blessed and meaningful funerals at our parish church and at other parishes.

My sister and I had little information about funeral planning when we buried our parents in our Belleville, Ill., hometown.

Father Curley’s book about bereavement and grief ministry is an amazingly “good read.” He can be contacted at, 781-592-7693 or via his website at I highly recommend his book.

The funerals I’ve attended through the years have all been special, but one that I remember well was the May 25, 2010, Mass of Christian Burial for James Courtland Marsh Jr., a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis.

His then 12-year-old grandson, Noah, wrote a tribute in his honor.

“Life. What do we think when we hear this wondrous word? Do we think of a family or a dove flying over a golden prairie?

“When life begins, it is a wonderful sight to behold. And when it ends, it is truly heartbreaking.

“But how will we fulfill our purpose if we do not die?

“He knew God was with him. It was as if God was an old friend to comfort him. My grandfather knew one of the secrets to true happiness, which is that if you find the light of God, the darkness in your life will be no more.

“Life, when it ends, is truly tragic, but when you die in peace like my grandfather, you shall live forever in the kingdom of God.”

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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