Nancy Pappas
Family Service Counselor
Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery and Funeral Home

More than 15 years ago, I was the one walking into the funeral home stricken with fresh grief. My husband had just passed away, and I was doing my best to comfort our children while making final arrangements that I prayed would honor his life in the way he deserved. As I walked out the door, I remember my sister saying, “You would be good at this.”

Although I didn’t know it at the time, she was right. I have always felt compelled to help people as they work through difficult times, to pray with them and to offer my support. Years later a family counselor from Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes visited my parish, and I jumped at the opportunity to follow my heart. Within two weeks, I joined the team and began my training.

That was in 2014, and since then I have found great joy in helping the families who walk through our doors. Because I have sat at the other side of the table, I know how difficult it can be to work through the loss of a loved one. That’s why I’m a such an advocate for pre-planning. I don’t want other people to have to go through what I did all those years ago. Now I’m in a position to help others make arrangements in advance so they don’t have to.

When families come in and haven’t gone through the process of preplanning, I’m also here to help them navigate through the journey so they can make decisions wisely despite the intense emotions they are feeling. I also have the opportunity to share teachings about the Catholic Funeral Rite so they can plan services that align with their faith or the faith of their loved one. I let them know that when the time comes, I will be there to make sure their wishes are carried out smoothly so they can focus on grieving with their family and friends.

This is more than a job to me. It’s a ministry, and I feel so blessed to be able to pray with our families and walk with them in the light of our shared faith as they lay their loved ones to rest with the Lord.