The loss of a loved one is a time of sadness and grief. However, in the Catholic faith there is joy in the belief that a funeral represents the passing of the beloved into eternal life. The Catholic Church has many traditions concerning funerals that can bring great comfort to you at this difficult time.
At Time of Death
At the time of death, the funeral home is usually called first. Their staff will offer compassionate services and will call the church to help you schedule the funeral Mass. Our priests are just a phone call away and will minister to your grieving friends and family in whatever ways are needed.
The Catholic Funeral Liturgy
The funeral liturgy is the Christian community’s central liturgical celebration for the deceased. When one of her members dies, the Church encourages the celebration of the funeral liturgy at a Mass. At the funeral liturgy, the Church gathers with the family and friends of the deceased to give praise and thanks to God for Christ’s victory over sin and death, to commend the deceased to God’s tender mercy and compassion, and to seek strength in the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery. The funeral liturgy, therefore, is an act of worship, and not merely an expression of grief.
You and your family will have the opportunity to select readings and hymns for the Mass. Friends and family members can participate as readers and gift bearers. In our diocese, a eulogy is permitted with only one person speaking for five minutes or less. Many families find that the setting of a gathering after the funeral Mass (repast) is a more relaxed and appropriate place for additional friends and family members to share words of remembrance. The parish staff will schedule an organist, soloist, and altar servers for your funeral Mass, and will be available to assist you during this planning process.
Interment or Burial
In the Catholic faith, there is a great respect for the body and therefore, burial should always take place in a cemetery or mausoleum. Catholics believe that the body is the temple of the Lord and that at the End of Days, there will be a resurrection of the body. The Rite of Committal is an expression of the communion that exists between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven: the deceased passes with the farewell prayers of the community of believers into the welcoming company of those who need faith no longer, but who see God face-to-face. A priest or deacon will join your family at the graveside or mausoleum to say Committal Prayers.
The Church does allow and accept cremation. The 1983 Code of Canon Law (1176. 3) now reads, “The Church earnestly recommends that the pious custom of burial be retained; but it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching.” If there is a cremation, it will almost always take place after the funeral service.