Four hundred sixty-eight students from St. Ignatius High School volunteer with the Pallbearer Program to provide service for those who have died indigent, alone, or with few remaining family or friends.
According to Mr. James Skerl, one of the moderators of the program, the students embrace the following:
The mission of the Saint Joseph of Arimathea Pallbearer Ministry is four-fold:
- To practice the Works of Mercy by offering pallbearer services free of charge to those in need, especially the poor and the elderly.
- To affirm the value and dignity of human life.
- To represent the community at a person’s final commendation.
- To commemorate and pray for the dead.
To request these services, the funeral director, including many we have contracts with, calls the school which notifies an Alumni Volunteer to make the arrangements. The dedicated phone line at the school is (216) 634-8814 (if you are not using a funeral director).
An Adult Companion who is in charge of that team drives students to the cemetery or other place of disposition. The students are dressed in dress pants and shirts, coat and tie. Their hair is combed and they are instructed to be “…more than punctual…be early.” They participate in any services, such as prayers and singing, and express sincere condolences to the remaining family and friends, both orally and with a handshake or hug.
The students will also accompany cremated remains to cemeteries, niches or other places of disposition. They will even go to the National Cemetery in Rittman, Ohio for military burials or entombments.
According to Mr. Skerl, the majority of services the boys attend are Roman Catholic, however they serve people of all religions, or none. The Pallbearers are the largest service group in the high school and they volunteer all year including vacations and holidays, weekdays and weekends.