Jill Rafferty-Weinisch, Humanist Celebrant

photo by Joseph Schuyler schuylerphoto.com

photo by Joseph Schuyler

I am a non-profit administrator, educator and theatre artist from New York State with over twenty years of event planning, program facilitation and production management experience. I have staged performances, coordinated social gatherings large (over a thousand) and small, and facilitated groups from pre-schoolers to senior citizens, to articulate and realize their creative visions, and to find authentic common ground.

Beginning in my teens, I found gaping holes of credibility in the Catholic faith of my upbringing and I struggled to find alternatives that could fulfill my own idea about ‘what was real’ without giving up the poetry, grandeur and fellowship of the religious tradition in which I’d been raised. As I gradually began to trust my own intellect and instinct, I discovered a world that resonated with meaning and beauty, without the guilt, ambiguity and hypocrisy that had been my experience of religion.

When my husband and I decided to marry, what I had ‘given up’ in rejecting religion came into sharp focus. Although we never considered or wanted a “traditional” wedding, getting married without any ritual seemed perfunctory. The dilemma we faced was pretty common – would we begin our formal life together by conforming, and invoking a deity we didn’t believe in? Or settle for an impersonal and clinical civil ceremony that lacked the import we both felt about the occasion? Our journey to that day led us to a Humanist Celebrant who helped us to honor our minds as well as our hearts with a wonderful and meaningful ceremony overlooking the Hudson River (on the site of our first kiss).

The process of planning our wedding helped me to understand what I already knew in my ordinary daily life – that the world we live in, the people we love and the bounty that surrounds us every day is more than enough to provide meaning to our lives. Rejecting religion didn’t require rejection of poetry, music, natural beauty, friendship, trust and love. It is possible to commemorate the milestones of our lives in a manner that honors who we are and what we believe, while celebrating the wonder and significance of these moments.

As a Humanist Celebrant, I would like to help others to do just that . . .