by Moira Cullings
OVERLAND PARK — After the loss of a child, parents are flooded with a unique and unfathomable grief.
But thanks to Project Chrysalis, moms and dads in the Kansas City metro area and beyond don’t have to go through it alone.
“We say it’s a club nobody wants to belong to,” said Deacon Ken Billinger, “but there’s a need out there, so we’re trying to fill that need with this ministry.
“It’s like having an extended family.”
Deacon Billinger and his wife Patty created Project Chrysalis after they lost their son and realized there was no specific ministry in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas to help grieving parents.
After talking with Deacon Tony Zimmerman and Brad and Libby DuPont of the archdiocesan marriage and family life office, who “saw there would be a definite need for this,” they launched their own ministry.
Now, Project Chrysalis will host its first Mass in remembrance of the children who have been lost by those involved in its ministry.
The Mass is scheduled for Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. at Church of the Ascension in Overland Park. Those interested in attending are asked to register in advance.
“We’ll have candles there as a memorial that people can light and take home with them,” said Deacon Billinger.
Anyone is welcome to attend, including those from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and those outside of the Kansas City metro area.
“We’re really trying to create an awareness of the ministry to let people know that we’re here and it’s a way of supporting [them],” said Deacon Billinger.
When it was first created in October 2018, Project Chrysalis held a meeting every six months for parents and grandparents experiencing the loss of a child or grandchild. Family members were also invited to attend.
Now, those involved in the ministry gather monthly. Each meeting includes time for parents to share about their children and their struggles, as well as hear from a guest speaker.
The ministry is Scripture-based and has drawn in some 50 couples and single parents. It’s designed not only to support those who are grieving, but also to help couples communicate with one another.
“The comments [have revealed that] they’re thankful for the ministry because it’s helping them get through the struggles they’ve had,” said Deacon Billinger.
“When you’ve got a situation where you’ve got other people that have gone through the same thing and you can relate to it, we can help each other,” he added.
Deacon Billinger hopes the upcoming Mass will be healing for attendees and that it will help expand this important ministry.
“We want people from all over the metro and anywhere else to come in and be a part of it,” he said.
To register for the Project Chrysalis Mass, send an email to Patty Billinger at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Ascension at (913) 681-3348. To learn more about Project Chrysalis, visit the website at: hopeinscripture.com.