Gerry Welch Pilot photo/ Courtesy Gerry Welch
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BEDFORD -- One of the most important moments that a family turns to the Church is in time of loss. Gerry Welch, a parishioner at St. Michael parish in Bedford, feels called to help them at that difficult time.
As the director of the Arimathea Society of St. Michael Parish, Welch and eight other parishioners meet with the families of the deceased in the parish in order to help them prepare the funeral Mass.
“We will sit with the families, go through the prayer, help them pick out the readings, help them pick out the responsorial psalm -- things like that,” explained Welch during a recent phone interview.
“We will also go to the funeral parlor sometimes and say the prayers of passing with the family,” she continued.
According to Welch, the Arimathea Society was begun five years ago by then-parochial vicar Father Michael Nolan.
“We’ve built on what we started with Father,” she said.
A parishioner for 36 years, Welch has raised her six children at St. Michael. When her children were young, she taught religious education and was involved in many of the parish activities designed for children and their families.
Now a grandmother of five, Welch is involved in other ways. She is a daily communicant at St. Michael. She is the RCIA coordinator for the parish. She also helps lead a prayer and Communion service every Thursday morning so that her pastor, Father Mark Sheehan, can enjoy his day off.
“Going to the 9 o’clock Mass gives me the support that I need every day,” she said. “Without my faith, I can’t imagine how I would exist.”
According to Welch, using the Missal as a guide, a lector proclaims the readings of the day and then the assembly recites all the prayers in the Missal. One person then reads the thoughts on the readings, also from the Missal, and then Holy Communion is distributed.
“The Thursday prayer service is so nice -- everyone is a part of it,” she said.
Welch, 76, grew up attending St. Ann Parish in the Wollaston section of Quincy. She first moved to Bedford 36 years ago with her husband of 41 years, Brendan Welch, who worked at Hanscom Air Force Base.
“St. Michael’s is a wonderful parish, full of spirituality,” she said. “We have a powerful prayer group of daily communicants, a wonderful religious education program for the kids, a prayer shawl group -- many, many different ways to get involved.”
Welch praised her pastor, Father Sheehan, calling him “a gem.”
“He will always take the time to sit down and listen to you,” she said. “He often says that the spirituality of his parishioners gives him his spirituality.”
St. Michael Parish, Bedford
Year established -- 1931
Pastor -- Father Mark Sheehan
Deacon -- Guy Saint Sauveur
Religious Education Director -- Patricia Marks
Music Director -- Lynn Vermeer