Deaths and Funerals
Death to New Life
Your prayers are requested for the repose of the souls of those in our community who passed to the greatness of eternity.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord . . .
Planning a Catholic Funeral
Plan ahead! Although in American society we often do not like to think about our own funeral, it is an enormous help to loved ones if we have already made plans, or at least made it clear what our wishes are. There are many options with regard to funeral services, caskets, urns, mortuaries, cemeteries, burial, cremation, organ donation, donation of our body to science, etc. Take the time now to make arrangements to receive the type of farewell that you want.
Or perhaps you find yourself responsible for arranging a funeral for a friend or family member. If you have never planned a funeral, where do you begin? In many instances, the deceased will have made his or her wishes known with respect to the kind of farewell desired. In some cases, however, there is no plan in place, and many decisions need to be made. Your mortuary representatives will be assisting you with most of the practical matters. Our parish staff and Bereavement Ministry are also here to help you with the scheduling and planning of the funeral liturgy.
Upon the Death of a Loved One
Before arranging any date and time with the mortuary, please call the Parish Center to inquire when the funeral might take place. After the funeral has been scheduled by the church and confirmed by the mortuary, a member of our Bereavement Ministry (English, Spanish, or Vietnamese) will contact you to assist in planning the funeral liturgy.
The Order of Christian Funerals
Ordinarily a Christian funeral is celebrated with a Funeral Mass. Sometimes a Vigil is also held the evening before. The Committal or Burial usually takes place following the Funeral Mass.
This Rite, presided over by a bereavement minister, takes place AT THE MORTUARY the evening before the funeral. It is a time for family members and others from the community to gather, to pray, to tell stories, and to support those who are grieving. The rosary is often included as part of the Vigil prayers. This is also the proper time for words of remembrance, or so-called “eulogies.”
The Funeral Liturgy
The Funeral Liturgy (Mass) is the principal celebration and is usually celebrated with the body (or the ashes) present. At the end of the Mass, the Final Commendation (blessing of the body) takes place. So-called “eulogies” should be given at the mortuary vigil the night before, rather than at the Mass. If any words of remembrance are to be permitted at the end of the Mass itself, they must be kept extremely brief, in no case exceeding five minutes IN TOTAL.
The Rite of Committal
The Rite of Committal, or burial, the final Funeral Rite, may be presided over by a priest, deacon, or lay person and consists of brief prayers said at the place of interment, before the final laying to rest of the body or ashes.
Catholic liturgical music can greatly enhance the beauty and solemnity of the Funeral Liturgy. If you would like music at the Mass, the bereavement minister will get you in touch with our music minister, who will assist you in the selection of appropriate music and will facilitate providing the music for the service. All music and songs for the Funeral Liturgy are to be selected in accordance with the Catholic Church's liturgical guidelines.
It can be beautiful to have family members actively participating in the Funeral Mass. This may be done in several ways, principally the Presentation of the Gifts (Offertory Procession) and acting as lectors. Again, the bereavement minister will assist you in the selection of appropriate scriptural readings. If family members are reading, they should practice thoroughly beforehand, to make it an uplifting, and not embarrassing, experience.
Funeral without Mass
In our faith, Holy Mass is a tremendous source of grace. Therefore it is usually preferable that Mass be celebrated for a Catholic funeral, but a funeral without Mass may also be arranged. Those responsible for planning the funeral should be aware of who is gathering and how best to carry out the wishes of their loved one. A funeral ritual without a Mass celebrates the mystery of God in life and in death and, through prayers and scriptural readings, commends the deceased to God’s care.
Memorial Service or Memorial Mass
If, for some reason, the family was unable to have a funeral celebrated, a Memorial Service or Memorial Mass without the body or ashes may be celebrated instead at a later time.
Cremation, Organ or Body Donation
Cremation has been an acceptable alternative to ground burial or entombment for Catholics since 1963. Cremated remains, in the view of the Catholic Church, are to be treated with reverence and respect and should, therefore, be either buried or entombed.
Some people choose to donate their organs to others in need. Some choose to give their entire body to a medical school or institution, for research or instruction. This is not only acceptable, but may be seen as a final act of generous love in the service of others. However, all this must be planned ahead of time.
A few flowers can add beauty to a funeral. However, many families have begun to view the overabundance of floral arrangements sent by mourners to be far beyond good taste and, moreover, a tremendous waste of money. Many choose to request their friends to make another sort of gift, in lieu of flowers, such as a donation to a particular charity in memory of the deceased. Some have asked their friends and relatives to send donations to our church instead of sending flowers, and for this we are always very grateful.