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Liturgy of Lament Spreads Beyond Cleveland

Liturgy of Lament
LIturgy leaders L to R; Ms. Mary James, Fr. Ron Bryda, Sr. Chris Schenk, Fr. Joe Fortuna and Ms. Laurel Jurecki (foreground).

Nearly 100 copies of the full Liturgy of Lament for the Broken Body of Christ have
been downloaded from the FutureChurch website (www.futurechurch.org) or mailed to interested individuals and groups across the country. At press time, rituals are being planned in a number of locations in the U.S. and abroad.

In Cleveland over 200 survivors and mourners attended the powerful and moving
liturgy at Ascension parish last October . The ritual, which struck both somber and hopeful notes, was inspired by A Healing Service for Victims created by “Stephen,” a survivor of clergy sex abuse, who asked FutureChurch to hold the event.

Ascension Pastor Fr. Joe Fortuna, Pastoral Associate Laurel Jurecki (both liturgy specialists who created the final ritual), Sr. Chris Schenk and five other pastoral ministers and priests led the service. Preaching on Jesus’ last moments on the cross, Schenk said:

“I wonder if the veil of our sacred structure has been torn and we see it for what it is... a flawed human institution. But since we want our church structures to reflect as much as possible the goodness of the God we serve, we must cry out for repentance, renewal and rebirth of this beloved and wounded institution of Catholicism. Like the women watching from the distance, we know ourselves powerless to effect this healing. But there is One who is not powerless...and so we look for a new outpouring of the Spirit, a Spirit breathed forth from the present day crucifixion of innocence in our church.”

Fr. Joe intoned the “Litany of Lament” which seemed to come from his very soul (excerpt below):

Mourning our loss of innocence, we cry...
Desperate for the courage to face our own demons, we cry....
Longing for families who can bear our truths with us, we cry...
Outraged by the actions of those who should have known better, we cry...
Amidst the shattered images of godliness and ministry, we cry...
Searching for the kind of faith that once sustained us all,
we cry...

The Litany was followed by opportunities to visit one or several ritual stations. One of the most popular was the signing of the senses:

Receive the sign of the cross on your ears, that in the cries of the abused and betrayed you may hear the voice of the Lord.

Receive the sign of the cross on your eyes, darkened by tears, denials and coverups, that they may be brightened in the light of Christ.

Receive the sign of the cross on your lips, silenced by fear and the shock of scandal, that you may respond to the word of God and speak justice and truth in love.

Pervading the liturgy like incense, was hopeful and healing musical text written by “Stephen.” The service included representative “co participants” from nine parishes, six religious communities of women, and seven other Catholic organizations. The gathering was covered by The Cleveland Plain Dealer and The Associated Press.

Winter 2003



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