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Commending a Loved One to God: Catholic Funerals at St. Mary's Parish

Losing someone we love is never easy. We grieve, even as we have hope in eternal life. Finding the courage to go on can be difficult, and making all the arrangements can seem overwhelming. Here at St. Mary's, we want to help. We have extensive experience celebrating life through funeral liturgies, and helping family, friends and community to gather in order to mourn, celebrate, and commend your loved one to the embrace of God.

Do we need to work with a funeral home?

If you are working with a funeral home, you will almost certainly find them to be a great resource. The clergy and office staff of the parish work closely with local funeral homes in regard to dates/times, services, and the wishes of the deceased and of family members. If you are not using the services of a funeral home, we remain pleased to help you make preparations.

What can we expect for a funeral service?

A Mass ­ The normal way for Catholics to celebrate a funeral is a Mass. In the Eucharistic Celebration, the life of the person who has died is celebrated and lifted up as an offering to the God who made us, and he or she is prayed for as a brother or sister of Jesus Christ. A funeral Mass can be planned for any time of day (other than Sundays or Holy Days), depending on the church schedule, but is most often celebrated at approximately 11 am. A Vigil ­The Church suggests holding a vigil the evening prior to the funeral Mass. Traditionally, this is a short (30-minute) service with one or two scripture readings and some special prayers. A second very popular option for this vigil is to pray a rosary together. With either option (a short scriptural service or a rosary), there is also opportunity for family members or friends to talk, share, and offer a eulogy. This is often the most appropriate moment for things like videos or the playing of favorite popular songs, if the family chooses to do so. A Procession to the Graveside ­ If the deceased is being buried locally, the funeral Mass leads directly into a funeral procession to the cemetery. The services conclude with burial of the body (or, with ashes, inurnment) and the blessing of the grave. A Luncheon / Reception ­ Family, friends and community have gathered for the funeral, and people want to have some time together to eat, to share stories, and to renew relationships. Because it is such a burden on a grieving family to host a meal of this scale, parish volunteers are available to prepare and serve the food and clean up afterwards. They offer three regular options for the reception: (1) an array of lunch meats, rolls, cheeses, salads, and desserts, (2) a traditional meal of ham, scalloped potatoes, salads, desserts, etc., or (3) cookies, coffee and punch. 1

Do we need to pay anything?

Burying the dead and comforting family members is our sacred duty and obligation. The parish as such does not ask anything for the funeral itself; our efforts are a gift. There are, however, some costs involved, and it is customary for the family of the deceased to offer free-will stipends to three parties: (1) the presiding cleric, (2) the musicians, and (3) the funeral luncheon committee. If you are working with a funeral home, they will usually arrange for these stipends. The cost of these stipends should in no way present a barrier, and whatever a person can give is welcome. The customary offering for the presiding priest or deacon is $75-200. For each musician, the offering is usually $50-100. Your offering to the funeral luncheon committee allows the group to continue providing its services.

What about those of our family and friends who are not Catholic?

Funerals are times when we all come together. Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and community members gather to celebrate the life the deceased and support one another in grief. Everyone is welcome to participate in funeral services. For those present who are unfamiliar with Catholic rituals, we will do our best to explain as we proceed. Generally, a funeral is experienced as a moment of solidarity that reaches across many different traditions and ways of life.

What does the parish need to know from us?

If you have not already done so, the priest and/or deacon will want to sit down to talk with members of the family. We need to know a little bit more about the person who has died to be able to personalize the service. In addition, family members may wish to participate in the planning by choosing readings, music, and ministers for the liturgy. Such a meeting can take place at the parish offices, a private home, or at the funeral home and normally lasts one to two hours. We record in our parish register the name of the deceased, their place of residence, the date of death, and which services were celebrated.


Celebrating Life: Decisions in Planning the Funeral Liturgy

Step 1: Decide on the type and timing of the service(s), in conversation with the priest and/or deacon. Y Y Y N N N Evening Vigil (Scriptural service or Rosary, with or without eulogizing) Funeral Mass, or Funeral liturgy outside of Mass Local Burial

Step 2: Decide on a format for the vigil ___ Scriptural service ___ Rosary ___ Eulogy (can be combined with either above option) Step 3: Decide on music and biblical readings for the funeral Mass / funeral outside of Mass

(See next page for resources and suggestions)

First Reading (Old Testament): Psalm (sung by musicians): Second Reading (New Testament) (Optional): Gospel Reading: Church music selections (up to four typically): ________________________

___________________________ ___________________________ ___________________________ ___________________________ ________________________ ________________________


Step 4: Decide on who will serve in the ministries of the Mass / funeral outside of Mass Lectors: Gift Bearers: Altar Servers: Eucharistic Ministers: __________________________ ___________________________

____________________________________________________________ __________________________ __________________________ ___________________________ ___________________________

Sharing of memories after communion:


Step 5: Decide timing and format of cemetery services (If burial or inurnment is to take place locally) ___ Immediately following Mass ___ Later in the day ___ At a later date Step 6: Decide about a funeral luncheon / reception ___ Array of lunchmeats, rolls, salads and desserts ___ Ham, scalloped potatoes, salads and desserts ___ Cookies, coffee and punch 3 ___ With automobile procession from church ___ No procession

Readings and music for funerals

Some well-loved possibilities: ...for a first reading (Old Testament): Isaiah 25: 6-9 Wisdom 4:7-15 ...for a psalm (normally sung): Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want) Psalm 63 (My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God) Psalm 122 (Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord) ...for a second reading (New Testament): Romans 6: 3-9 2 Timothy 4: 6-8,17-18 1 Corinthians 15: 20-23 1 John 3: 1-2 Philippians 3: 20-21 Revelation 14:13 Zechariah 2:5-9,14-15a Lamentations 3:22-26 Wisdom 3: 1-6,9 Job 19:1,23-27

...for a gospel reading (from one of the four gospels): Matthew 5: 1-12 John 5: 24-29 Matthew 11:25-30 John 6: 37-40 Luke 23: 33,39-43 John 11: 17-27

...for hymns (see the Breaking Bread or Spirit and Song books): Amazing Grace Be Not Afraid Beyond the Moon and Stars Blest Are They Hail Mary, Gentle Woman Here I Am, Lord Hosea How Can I Keep From Singing How Great Thou Art I am the Bread of Life On Eagle's Wings Prayer of St. Francis Precious Lord, Take My Hand Shepherd Me, O God (Haugen) You Are Mine You Are Near



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