Preparing to celebrate the funeral of a loved one can make for a challenging and very difficult time. Please be assured that our parish shares your sorrow and wants to do what it can to help you. There is little that anyone can say at this time, but perhaps there are few simple things we can do to support you and ensure that the funeral runs smoothly. Firstly we will be praying for you and in a very special way for your loved one. The name of your loved one will be included in the Prayer of the Faithful on the Sunday after their funeral when prayers will be offered for them.
Although you may feel quite numb at the moment and would gladly hand all the funeral arrangements over to someone else, the funeral service will become a cherished memory with the passing of time. In listing the areas that you, your family and your friends might be involved in, it is important that you take on, only what you feel you can. Your involvement should be as little or as much as you wish. The people of our parish are very happy to help out at this time.
The Vigil and Reception of Remains.
This service is celebrated the evening before the Funeral Mass, or in some cases in a short ceremony before the Funeral Mass. If it takes place the evening before it would normally begin at 6.30pm. Our community will keep watch with you and join you in listening to the consoling proclamation of God’s Word that promises Resurrection and new life,
The service the evening before is a simple service. There are a few things you or your family may wish to be involved in.
Only symbols of Baptism are placed on the coffin at this point. No flags, flowers, photos or cards should be placed on the coffin. If you wish members of your family or friends to place these baptismal symbols on the coffin after it has been brought into the church, please fill in the first names of those who will be involved, there is space for this towards the end of this introduction. The priest will prompt and lead those who are involved at the correct time.
If a family member wishes to speak in memory of your loved one they are welcome to do this during this service or indeed at the crematorium or at the Cemetery, rather than at the funeral Mass.
The opportunity for Confession will normally be given after this service to help people prepare for the funeral the next morning.
The Funeral Mass.
This takes place at our Morning Mass at 9.30am in St. Joseph’s or at 10.00am in St. Joachim’s. This is the central act of Christian worship in which we celebrate the victory of Christ over death, we pray that Christ’s death will bring forgiveness of sin to your loved one, we seek strength in our faith, and we look forward to being united again in God’s presence. Please note that the Funeral Mass, rather than the committal at the crematorium or at the cemetery, is the central element of a Catholic funeral.
Again in the Funeral Mass you are invited to take as much a part as you feel appropriate.
The Liturgy of the Word
The first part of our funeral liturgy will be the celebration of God’s Word.
Your friends or your family may wish to proclaim the First Reading and the Bidding Prayers. The readings are arranged in consultation with the priest. Our parishioners will read for you if you wish.
You may wish to suggest some hymns that you feel are particularly appropriate. Hymns should reflect the faith of the Christian people as well as the current liturgical season: Christmas, Advent, Lent or Easter.
The Procession of the Gifts
As the Mass continues with the Liturgy of the Eucharist, members of your family may wish to present the Bread and Wine at the Presentation of the Gifts. This will show your families association with the offering of this particular Mass. If you have family or friends who are Eucharistic Ministers they are welcome to help out with Holy Communion.
The Order of Service
If you are considering the production of a Mass sheet or Order of Service for the funeral you should ensure that you include the following text.
“Acknowledgements and Copyright: Excerpts from the English translation of the Roman Missal © 2004, International Committee on English on the Liturgy. Inc. All rights reserved. All hymns covered by Calamus Licence No. 0692”
Please ensure however that you speak with the priest before producing an Order of Service since it is important that the hymns suggested are appropriate and covered by our copyright license. Many families decide not to produce an Order of Service but opt instead to produce memorial cards to help remember their loved one who has died and to encourage prayer for the deceased.
The Cemetery or Crematorium
The service at the crematorium or at the grave is short and focuses around the committal of the deceased for burial or cremation. The Catholic funeral liturgy centres on the Funeral Mass. The rites of committal are very short since most of the funeral takes place in the church.
Secular songs or tunes are not appropriate either at the Funeral Mass or at the Crematorium. You may however play music after the service at the crematorium is complete.
The focus of the Catholic tradition is on praying for the deceased rather than on memorialising the life of the person who has died. While every effort will be made to personalise the funeral liturgy it remains an important and essential part of our Catholic tradition to pray for the dead. You may however consider, particularly at the crematorium, that a member of the family might be invited to speak offering some brief thoughts on the life and faith of your loved one. The priest will try to personalise all the funeral liturgies with the information you give.