Joyful Again!

Origins of Joyful Again!

About Father Laz


  • Father Medard Laz was ordained a Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1969 where he served in parishes until 1999. He founded Holy Family Parish in Inverness, Illinois in 1984. In 1999 he moved his residence to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

  • Co-founder, Rainbows
  • Father Laz is the co-founder of Rainbows, a support program for children in single parent or blended families. Over two million children have attended the program all over the world.

  • Founder, Joyful Again!
  • Father Laz has also founded Joyful Again!, a weekend program for widows and widowers that is held throughout the country. He continues to serve as its Executive Director.

  • Founder, Hearts for Humanity & Co-founder, Angels in Action
  • He traveled to the Dominican Republic in 2006. There, Father Laz established Hearts for Humanity to promote critical thinking in education in Haiti. He also co-founded Angels in Action to support the education of students in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

  • Author of 9 books
  • Father Laz is the author of nine books, most notably his best-selling, Love Adds a Little Chocolate, 100 Stories to Brighten Your Day and Sweeten Your Life. He has also written Coping When Your Spouse Dies and Life After the Divorce. He has given lectures and retreats throughout the country.

A Message from Father Medard Laz,
Executive Director & Founder of Joyful Again!

A significant part of my ministry and the ministry of all who serve god’s people is to those who are sick & dying.

  • When a person has passed on to their eternal reward, the family, and especially the surviving spouse, are consumed with grief. They are much in need of care & support.

But our time as ministers is limited.

Bereavement ministries

Some congregations provide bereavement ministries where widows & widowers can gather to find support. They can work through their stages of grief, learn to cope with their loss, and grow spiritually and emotionally. Congregations that can provide this ministry are truly blessed.

Thirty-five years ago I found myself often conducting two or three funerals a week. Bereavement ministry groups had not yet come into existence....or were very rare. So I asked 28 widows & widowers to write the life story of their marriage, about the death of their spouse, and the grief process they went through.

The journey from their new life.

I then took those 28 life histories and combined them into four characters – two men & two women, two whose spouses had sudden deaths, two who had lingering deaths. Two had strong marriages, two struggled in their marriages.

As they told their stories, key emotional and spiritual insights were shared - ones that were common to all or most of the 28 stories. These common spiritual moments and insights would be the ones that the participants in the Joyful Again! weekends would see on video, write about privately and then discuss in small groups.

Feelings drive the story

Journaling is important. Getting in touch with one’s feelings is essential to resolving grief and guilt.

Once these feelings are written down, they can serve as markers to gauge progress in the present as well as the future. Everyone has a grieving story to tell. But feelings drive the story.

The sharing in the small group greatly helps the healing. The non-widowed have a hard time understanding. Everyone in the small group has been widowed. Everyone in the small group Is at a different place in their grieving.

A peer ministry to foster understanding

Joyful Again! Is peer ministry. Everyone is listened to and helped at whatever emotional place they are at. A healing begins to happen.

For over 30 years hundreds of Joyful Again! weekends have been held throughout the Chicagoland area and around the country. Over 10,000 widowers and widows have attended.

In Luke, Chapter 7, we see Jesus who is moved to great compassion for the widow of Naim.

Jesus comforts her as she weeps. Jesus then says to the body of her dead son, “I say to you arise!”
We cannot work the same miracle Jesus did for the widow’s son. But through Joyful Again! we can breathe new life into our widows & widowers today.

Joyful Again! welcomes people of all faiths and denominations.

Death and the loss of a spouse does not wear a particular label.

Joyful Again! is here for your family of believers. Joyful Again! is here to assist widows, widowers, and ministers, not to take the place of existing bereavement groups. Many people come to Joyful Again! who participate in other grief support or bereavement groups.

My heart has been touched

What I have heard from participants deeply touches my heart:

“After years of searching, I finally found a group of people who knew and could feel what I was going through.”

“The weekend was a miracle – I began to live again!”

“My kids and grandkids say I’m not the same person after the weekend. I’m alive. They want me to go again!”

I could go on and on with comments like those. I have yet to find a participant after all these years, who didn’t find something very special on a Joyful Again! weekend.