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Grieving with Great Hope: Catholic Ministry for the Bereaved

"Let us become bearers of HOPE." The Holy Father - Pope Francis

In the video below, Fr. John Riccardo joins Ralph Martin to reflect on grieving with hope and praying for those who have gone before us.

Fr. John Riccardo's Parish, Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth, Michigan, created a Catholic Grief Ministry. There are three videos below about this program.

This first one is the Intro video to the program:

This second one is a 10-minute excerpt from the program:

This third video is from the opening session of Grieving With Great Hope.


Here is some information from the webpage of this ministry:

Welcome to Good Mourning Ministry. We are delighted you found us.

Guided by the Holy Spirit, we are a bereavement apostolate and a resource to Catholic parishes offering hope and healing to those who are mourning the loss of loved one. Our quest is be bearers of hope. To be intentional and transformational in our work, providing prayerful, practical and personal grief support. We believe we can help equip grieving people with the tools they will need to build their bridge that will lead them into a new and different life.

In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds." Pope Francis- September 19, 2013

Today, despite the need for grief support, many Catholic churches do not have the resources to devote to a ministry that provides significant help for their bereaved parishioners. As a result, with faith being such an important part of the mourning process, many Catholics look to non-Catholic churches for grief support programs. We are grateful for parishes who recognize the need to offer vibrant programs of hope for those who are mourning the loss of a loved one. For those who can't, we are here to help. The Grieving with Great Hope DVD Series is now coast to coast. Now, over 2000 people have been helped by one of the many Grieving with Great Hope workshops across the United States.

We are blessed to help those who mourn.

God bless!

Grieving with Great Hope DVD Series is now in over 40 parishes in 21 states!

"Every parish should have your program! So comprehensive, you did all the work for us! We are so grateful we found your beautiful program and welcome it to central Texas." Deacon Tim and Liz Hayden- Holy Family Parish-Copperas Cove Texas.

"Grieving with Great Hope should be the NATIONAL STANDARD! May God Bless you." Sue Treida, St. Maria Goretti-Westfield Indiana.

"Your Grieving with Great Hope (DVD Series) is the answer to my prayers for a Catholic offering! I just can't thank you and Sandy enough!" Denise M. Carlson- Coordinator of Family Lifespan and Bereavement-Archdiocese of Omaha Nebraska

"This was amazing!" Debbie Gladen - St. Phillip the Apostle - Lewisville, Texas"Thank you having this workshop!" Peggy Peters - St. Helen's - Newbury, Ohio


The process of healing begins with prayer. About 1/3rd of every Grieving with Great HOPE workshop is spent in church where we come together as a community of faith to become disciples of hope. "Because the Father's will is to raise up people, to share in His own divine life. He does this by gathering us around His Son." CCC. We spend part of this time in Eucharistic Adoration. We pray, are prayed over and are prayed for. We pray for our beloved. We sing, we listen and we remember. We cry. We may even smile. "FINALLY, a program for the bereaved that integrates the treasure of our Roman Catholic Faith in the process of healing the heart!!!" Dianne Fessler-Mulligan


There are no stages to grief. We all experience loss in our own unique way. In another one-third of this workshop we come to learn the intentional process of mourning. When we mourn, we outwardly express our internal thoughts and feelings. And it is through this process that we understand practical things we can do to help us heal our wounds and build our bridge to a new and different life. Christ is our role model. He wept. He prayed. He accepted His cross with great love and great hope. "Grieving with Great Hope beautifully combines practical wisdom, personal sharing, and meaningful ritual that together point people back to Christ for healing of their hearts." Kathy Hasty


Validation is an important part of the healing process. This gives us a sense that we are not alone. The balance of the time is spent in small self-facilitating grief peer groups. These groups are formed based on age and loss and establish a safe environment to openly share thoughts and feelings. Often times in these groups, strangers become friends. As disciples of hope in the body of Christ, we help each other mourn our loss and find our way through our grief.

"This program connects your mind and heart and then points you to The only Healer Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist!" Dianne Fessler Certified Hospice Education Madonna University and Certified Pastoral Ministry Sacred Heart Major Seminary-Retired.

"Thank you for being ministers of hope and healing to those who are journeying through the valley of grief. Your ministry provides light for those on the journey as well as care, comfort, and understanding." Kathy Hasty, Pastoral Associate-St. Joseph- Lake Orion

“Thank you for this ministry. It makes such a big difference that specifically, the Catholic participants can involve the practice of their faith in coping with their grief.” Catherine M. Borsh- DRE- St. Frances Cabrini-Allen Park

"Dear Sandy and John, all of us at Holy Family Parish want to thank you with all our hearts for your Grieving with Great Hope Workshop and for the gift of you both. It takes the heart of Jesus to willingly embrace those who come to you with the heavy heart of grief. I never realized how much you both are called to give of yourselves until I witnessed it myself. May the Lord continue to bless you both in every way." Fr. Bob Schikora- Holy Family Parish-Sandusky MI.

The video below includes more testimonies:

The Grieving with Great Hope DVD Series is designed to bring hope and healing to thousands of people that the "live" workshop can't reach. It was filmed at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth Michigan and comes complete with five DVDs, a Leader-Guide Book, a workbook and a flash drive loaded with other materials to help a host church or group have a successful prayerful, practical and personal workshop. Each of the first four DVDs has time allotted for small table discussions (GPGs). It is formatted to be a five week series.

Summary of DVD Series:

DVD#1 - Filmed in church, Fr. Michael Suhy leads us off in prayer and the Father's love for all. He shares his own personal story of loss. John and Sandy speak of their stories of losing their first spouses, Ann and David. John also talks about today's culture related to grief. There is time for one GPG (Grief Peer Group).

DVD#2 - John and Sandy become educators and discuss the practical aspects of grief and loss. They talk about the difference between grief and mourning as well as theories and misconceptions of grief. There are two GPGs in this session.

DVD#3 - John and Sandy discuss the emotions of grief and the importance of forgiveness. They also introduce the Seven Intentions of Mourning. There are two more GPGs.

DVD#4 - Here Sandy and John review what makes everyone's journey through grief so unique. They talk about how rituals can help us heal. They discuss the holidays and how important it is to mourn and take care of one's self.

DVD#5 - Fr. John Riccardo joins us for this final DVD. He shares our beliefs as Catholics. And as such, why can grieve with great hope (1Thes 4:13). This session is filled with great faith and ritual. There is a candle lighting ceremony, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Litany of the Saints and a final blessing. The host church is encouraged to have each participant, participate in all of these rituals.

The 1st video above should give a sense for the DVD series. The 4th video on this page is from actual participants who give their testimonials. The DVD Series is available for purchase in the e-store which you can access by pressing the red button below.

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