Frequently Asked Questions: The Funeral Liturgy

Funerals with a Funeral Director
The funeral director (funeral home) will work with the family and St. Paul Parish to set up the details of date and time of the funeral liturgy including visitation, funeral Mass or liturgy,  and interment. Normally, after news of death, the funeral home is contacted first.  The funeral home will then contact St. Paul parish office to determine possible times and dates for a funeral liturgy.  The family will meet with the funeral director and confirm the date/time.  A member of St. Paul Parish Bereavement Ministry will then contact the family to arrange a meeting for planning the funeral Mass/Service including readings, music and other details. 

Funerals without a Funeral Director?
If the family is not using a funeral director then the family should contact the Parish Office to arrange date and time.  A member of St. Paul Parish Bereavement Ministry will then contact the family to arrange a meeting for planning the funeral Mass/Service including readings, music and other details. Parish Office hours are Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 12:45 pm to 4:30 pm and Saturday 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.

What is the Structure of the Christian Burial Rite?
The Rite of Christian Burial has three rites: the Vigil for the Deceased (Wake); Funeral Liturgy (Mass); and Committal (Cemetery). The Vigil generally takes place at the funeral home or may take place in the church. It is followed by the celebration of the Funeral Mass and continues with prayers of committal at the cemetery.

Do I have to have a Mass?
The Church encourages a Funeral Mass for a deceased Catholic, with the body present.   If there is question about whether a liturgy without Mass might be more appropriate, a Funeral Service may be conducted in the Funeral Home.  If there is a question as to what would be more appropriate a priest or deacon is available to discuss this with the family.

Special Circumstances:
A Child who has died before Baptism:  A Mass can always be celebrated for a child who has died, even without baptism.  Appropriate prayers are used if the child was not baptized.
Funerals for non-Catholics: 
A Catholic funeral may be celebrated (even a Mass) for a person who is not a Catholic, as long as this would not offend the sensibilities of those who attend.  This case may arise when the living spouse is Catholic, and the spouse who died practiced no religion.

Can a family member or friend give a eulogy during the Funeral Mass? Remembrances
The grieving process necessarily includes time to remember the life of the deceased loved one. In the Catholic funeral rite, there is an opportunity for a Remembrance to be given by a member of the family or a friend. Unlike a eulogy, the remembrance  is an opportunity for the family member or friend to focus on the loved one's faith and hope in Jesus Christ. The remembrance may be given following the Prayer after Communion during the funeral liturgy. The words should be brief, approximately 5 minutes and written.  If there is more than one person delivering a remembrance, it may be more appropriately done during the vigil service or rite of committal.

Is there a fee/donation for a Funeral Mass/Service?
St. Paul does request that a fee/donation be offered to the church for the services rendered by the staff of the parish these include the church, the organist and the cantor. The fees are itemized by the funeral director. In case of financial hardship, these donations/fees may be waived.   

What is the Church's teaching regarding cremation?
In 1997, the Church granted permission for cremated remains to be present during the funeral liturgy (funeral mass). Although permitting Catholics to choose cremation, the Church prefers that the body of the deceased be present for the funeral rites, since the presence of the human body better expresses the values which the Church affirms in the funeral rites. It is the preference of the Church that that cremation take place following the funeral liturgy and committal following a few days later. Whether the cremains are present or not at the funeral liturgy, out of respect for the human body the Church teaches that the cremated remains be properly interred in a cemetery or mausoleum/columbarium. The practice of scattering cremated remains or keeping the cremated remains in the home of a relative or friend of the deceased is not considered the reverent disposition that the Church teaches.