We at St. Catherine Labourè Catholic Church extend our deepest sympathy to you and your family at the death of your loved one. It is our hope that the following information will assist you in preparing a meaningful and prayerful farewell service.
The purpose of the Funeral Liturgy/Services is to allow the grieved family and friends to gather to console each other; to celebrate the person’s life – both their human life and their life of faith; to express their faith in Jesus Christ and his death and Resurrection; to be strengthened in their hope in the resurrection of the dead; and to commend the deceased to the tender mercy and love of almighty God.
Full Body Burial or Cremation?
Now that Cremation is so common, it is good to clarify the terms and options available. To give proper respect to the body and to express our hope in the Resurrection of the Body, the Catholic Church prefers that the Body be present at the Funeral Mass and that the Body be properly buried. However, the Catholic Church does allow cremation, and it seems to be the more practical and economical solution in many cases.
When the Body is present in the Church for the Farewell service, it is called a Funeral Mass or Mass of Christian Burial – or Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass if there is a service with the Biblical readings and Final Commendation, but there is no Mass (Holy Communion). The policy of our Diocese is that a Funeral Liturgy can be celebrated in a Funeral Home, but a Funeral Mass may only be celebrated in the Church.
When the body is in the process of being cremated, or for any other reason is not available for the Service, then the Mass is called a Memorial Mass. The Memorial Mass can be celebrated with the cremated remains (cremains) present, if they are available, or without the cremated remains.
An optional rosary/vigil/ “wake” service. This generally takes place at the funeral home, usually the night before, and does not require the presence of a Priest or Deacon.
Prayers at the Graveside or Committal Shelter
The Rite of Committal (with or without final commendation) are the proper prayers to be offered at the time of the Burial. If a priest or deacon is available, it is appropriate that they be present; if not, a lay person can lead these prayers. This usually takes place right after the Funeral Mass, if there is one, or may be arranged for another appropriate time.
The Catholic Church teaches that the proper respect for the Body includes a proper resting place, usually in a properly licensed cemetery. We are fortunate to have our own Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, which offers burial packages at less than the cost of most other cemeteries. The Church discourages having the cremains scattered at sea, but is supportive of an urn being dropped in the ocean, such that the cremated remains are still kept intact.
Planning the Funeral Liturgy
One or more Family members will usually meet with the priest or a member of the Bereavement Committee to plan the Funeral liturgy. This can even be done in advance, if circumstances permit. We will walk you through the process of choosing the readings for the Mass and explain the other details of the Liturgy. It is helpful if you can bring a picture of the deceased to the planning Liturgy. Providing a brief biography of the deceased during the planning process will help personalize the homily.
We have a selection of readings available from which you may choose the first and second readings. We will provide guidance to you in this area during the planning process.
A member of the family or a friend may speak in remembrance of the deceased (“eulogy”). This needs to be arranged with the presider when planning the funeral. Only one person should be designated to speak.
The remembrance should be brief – about two minutes. (A written text is highly recommended.)
If others wish to speak, the more appropriate time would be at the vigil the night before, if there is one; or at the reception after the Mass.
Music is an essential component of the Funeral Liturgy. All music must be approved by our parish Music Director. We have a list of appropriate hymns to aid you in your selection of music. The Liturgy planning session will address this for you.
There is a podium at the entrance of the church on which you may place a guest book. If you are having your reception at St. Catherine’s, the guest book may be brought over to the Hall after the service.
Flowers may be delivered to the church the day of the funeral. Because of limited space, some of the arrangements may be placed in the vestibule of the church. Flowers are never allowed to be placed directly on the altar. Also, flowers may not block the view of the Liturgical action; thus, any tall arrangements will be but towards the back or the side of the sanctuary.
Pictures of the Deceased
Photographs of the deceased are permitted in the vestibule of the church. One photograph no larger than 11 X 14 may be placed on a table, perhaps with a flower arrangement, in or near the main sanctuary.
If you would like to have a reception following the liturgy in our Parish Hall, please check with the Parish Office for availability. We will provide you with Hospitality Guidelines during the planning process and provide you with the contact information of the volunteers in the Bereavement Ministry who can help you plan the reception and suggest a caterer. We do not allow non-catered food to be used for any events at St. Catherine’s. Please note that receptions should be limited to 2 hours.
Programs for the Funeral Liturgy
If you would like to have a program to hand out to your guests, please click on our working templates here. You can fill in the blanks with the appropriate information, if known, or just omit the blank! Delete those lines that may not be appropriate in this case. Then print out and take to your local copy or print shop. It is designed to be copied back to back, then folded in half.