1. Send out personal letters of invitation to each school family that has suffered a bereavement in the past year - obviously,it is very important to get this right (the name of the person who has died, their relationship to the family, etc. - Heads of Year can be of great help here)
2. Once you have established an annual Bethany Mass in your school, it may be good to collect the names of those who attend so a more personal invitation can be sent to them each following year.
3. A general invitation, explaining what the Bethany Mass is about, is sent to the whole school community incuding parents and families, teaching and support staff, governors, etc.
4. Invite those attending, if they wish to do so, to bring a photograph of the family member who has died. These can be placed on the altar (or on a table in front of the altar, together with the November Lists) before Mass begins. Again, it is important to be sensitive here - placing the photographs more formally during the liturgy may be too emotional for some. Doing it before Mass, as they arrive, makes it less stressful. Have a couple of pupils on hand to spot who has brought photographs and invite, and accompany them, to place the pictures on the altar as soon as they arrive.
5. Make sure there are staff and pupils on hand to welcome people, give them a service sheet, and show them to their places. This is especially important at the Bethany Mass.
6. It is good to prepare the words the priest speaks by way of introduction well. Or to get the Head or another appropriate adult to speak them (this probably isn't a role for a pupil). These words set the tone of the Mass and will serve to reassure those who may need reassuring. A suggested text is given below.
7. Choose readings and the texts of the Mass carefully. Some can sound quite brutal.
8. The gospel is the story of the raising of Lazarus at Bethany (John 11). You may wish to consider having some pupils do a dramatic reading of this gospel (see dramatised version below).
9. Make sure the Mass is unhuried and includes quiet moments (don't succumb to the temptation to fill every space with music). At a Mass as directly personal as this, people need time to reflect and be with their own thoughts. Try to build opportunities for this into the liturgy without being too directive about it (eg. Have the offertory procession and presentation of the gifts in silence).
10. During the bidding prayers, have some pupils light candles placed before the altar (maybe purple candles) - one for each prayer.
11. At the end of Mass, invite people to stay briefly for coffee or rereshments; but be aware that some may just want to slip away unnoticed.
12. You may wish to give each person a prayer card (praying for those who have died) to take away with them.