Detroit Stories Episode 40: 'The Meaning of a Holy Death' (PODCAST)

A chaplain, a funeral home director and a cemeteries leader explore Catholic beliefs and experiences about death and dying

(0:02) Fr. Rich Bartoszek, chaplain and director of spiritual care for Beaumont Hospital in Grosse Pointe, talks about his experience ministering to the dying. Often, he says, those at the end of life report mystical experiences, such as a visit from a long-deceased loved one. These experiences can be signs that the end is near.

(2:44) Timothy Schram, CEO of Howe-Peterson Funeral Homes, discusses how he became involved in funeral ministry from a young age. It's not for everyone, he admits, but it's a passion he feels to help those experiencing one of the most difficult times in life.

(6:23) Over 35 years, Schram continues to be emotionally invested in his work because he realizes the importance of honoring a loved one's memory. He and his wife have their own experience with tragedy, having lost an infant themselves.

(8:59) The work can be spiritually taxing, but Schram has a solid support system. He leans heavily on his faith, as well as on his wife and kids, who ground him and remind him of the value of his ministry.

(13:27) Schram describes the beauty of the Catholic funeral rites, as well as the impact caring for the dead can have on the living. He describes interactions with families of those he's buried, who thank him time and time again.

(18:25) Bob Hojnacki, director of Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services for the Archdiocese of Detroit, discusses what makes his ministry unique, from spiritual care to financial assistance for families who've suffered a loved one's loss. Hojnacki talks about the archdiocese's six Catholic cemeteries, as well as what goes into a funeral vigil, Mass and rite of committal.

(20:43) Fr. Bartoszek tells the story of a 10-year-old boy, Michael, who was dying of HIV. A spirited youngster, Michael was an inspiration to his classmates and friends. One day, Michael asked Fr. Bartoszek what it would be like when he died. Fr. Bartoszek replied that "the angels will come and take you home." At the end of Michael's life, he reported a vision of the angels, just as Fr. Bartoszek had said.

(25:52) Fr. Bartoszek talks about his ministry to both Catholics and non-Catholics. The most fulfilling part, he says, is when he can share God's love and mercy with a dying person who didn't think they deserved it. He helps people let go of grudges, learn to forgive, and learn to accept God's mercy for them.

(28:07) It's this profound love and mercy that's at the heart of Fr. Bartoszek's ministry, every anointing, every funeral Mass, every burial and every tear. It's the hope of the resurrection that animates the Church's ministry to the dying, and the ineffable message that Jesus' love is always stronger than death.

Reporting by Gabriella Patti; narration by Fr. Craig Giera; script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn

This episode is sponsored by Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services. As Catholics, we pray, worship and live in holy spaces, from grandiose cathedrals to tiny adoration chapels where we meet Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. But what about our final resting place? A Catholic burial in consecrated ground among fellow believers is the sacred right of every Catholic. A tradition since the catacombs, it is the final expression of our Catholic faith, a silent witness to our hope in the resurrection. Archdiocese of Detroit Catholic cemeteries provide an environment of comfort and solace for loved ones, a powerful reminder of our eternal life with Jesus Christ. Offer your family this gift by planning for your eternal rest in a Catholic cemetery. To learn more about the work of Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services, our history and our Catholic burial traditions, call or visit one of our locations today. We are ready to ensure that your wishes are met and provide peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones.

Listen to ‘Detroit Stories’ on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify. Podcasts also will be posted biweekly on DetroitCatholic.com.



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