Are the people in your “Church” allowed to speak?


Are you allowed to speak?

Tommy “The Scouser” called me to say that he had a little piece written out for the funeral of our Auntie May who he was particularly close to. It wasn’t a full eulogy but it was a really short piece that perfectly summed up the character and spirit of our fabulous aunt. He was really upset reading it to me.

He wanted to read it at the funeral mass but wasn’t sure if he could manage actually saying it without getting really upset. If that was the case he wanted to know that I was in reserve to read it for him. I knew he would be fine but agreed in any case.

On the day of the funeral I was asked would I do a reading along with some of the other family members. I did my piece and I wondered what was going on as the funeral mass drew to an end and there was no sign of “The Scouser” going up to the altar – maybe he decided he wasn’t up to it after all?..I wondered.

The funeral party moved on to the cemetery where Auntie May was laid to rest as the priest said the final prayers. Just as he finished I noticed Tommy making his way to the microphone (much to the surprise of the priest) and he did May proud by reading his beautiful and very emotional piece, which was greeted by a huge round of applause from everyone standing in the sunshine in the peaceful country graveyard.

This was a really special moment as it was the only true occasion during the whole funeral process where the family put a “personal” stamp on the proceedings, where a “real” voice was heard and in some small way he said what we had all felt and wanted to say.

I wondered why Tommy had left it so late in the day to read his piece and was totally shocked to hear that the priest in question “did not allow” people to say such things and would not allow it at the mass!

This has left me bewildered and quite furious and while I know it is not the usual behaviour of the church it does give you an insight into some of the odd and very old and traditional thinking that has turned so many people against them in recent times.

Whose church is it anyway I thought? Whose memory were we all honouring?

The more I thought about this the more I reflected on all the other organisations where there are people that have very important things to say but just aren’t allowed. It’s easy to lose sight of what an organisation is about and its even easier to block the real important voices from being heard.

Are the people in your “Church” allowed to speak?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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