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Phillips Memorial Home sets Dec. 2 Remembrance Service

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MASSENA - In what has become an annual tradition, the staff at Phillips Memorial Home will once again remember those who have recently passed away during a Remembrance Service at 2 p.m. Sunday at Emmanuel Congregational United Church of Christ, 40 W. Orvis St., Massena.

Owner and manager David A. Frary said they started the Remembrance Service in 1998 after hearing about how difficult it was during the holidays for those who had lost loved ones over the course of the year.

“We see our families all the time. We either run into them or do a follow-up. That was one of the things they commented about - how difficult it was going through the first holiday without a member of their family, whether it was a birth, whether it was an anniversary,” Mr. Frary said.

The “common denominator” with all those he spoke with was the difficult of getting through the first Thanksgiving and Christmas without a loved one, he said.

But they’re not alone, Mr. Frary said, with many families struggling to make it through the holidays.

That made them think, “Maybe it would be nice to have everybody come together in a more different setting than a funeral setting,” he said.

“That’s why we never do it at the funeral home. That would bring back the remembrance of grieving. We picked a church. The congregational church is nearby and it’s sort of ecumenical; all faiths go to it. Pastor Judy Van Kennen was very nice about it, and the previous pastors were very open,” Mr. Frary said.

The event is meant to be a time of reflection and remembrance, he said.

“It’s a time of reflection and a time of remembrance and you do miss them and that’s OK. We try to reaffirm that. All these people here are feeling the same things,” Mr. Frary said.

They send out invitations to families they’ve served over the past year at their funeral homes, but everybody is welcome to attend.

They also invite a couple of clergy to co-officiate, James C. Phillips plays music and Kathy Baker is the vocalist.

“This year Judy Van Kennen will be doing one of the readings. Father Scott Fobare is the homilist this year. The music is very often positive and it’s moving,” he said.

The Remembrance Service will also include a “life tribute video” to those who have passed away this year, up to the end of October. Anyone who died after that date will be remembered during the 2013 service, according to Mr. Frary.

“They’ll be pictured on two screens as we read the names off,” he said.

Light refreshments will be offered following the service, and families who have lost a loved one over the past year will receive a commemorative ornament with the person’s name on it. Mr. Frary said they’ll mail those to families who are unable to attend because of the distance.

About 185 people attended last year’s service.

“It gets larger every year,” he said.

Mr. Frary said they realize the holidays are difficult for people who have experienced a death in their family over the past year, and this is their way of helping them.

“We think it’s a way of giving back to the community. We do care and we do think about them in a time like that,” he said.

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