Sample Parish Funeral Guidelines
Home Church:The norm is that Funeral Masses are celebrated in the parish church where the deceased worshiped.
Non-Parishioners:If for some valid reason non-parishioners want to have the Funeral Mass in this parish church, and the bereaved family is in agreement with our parish guidelines for funerals, the Funeral Home will contact _____________ parish to make arrangements.
___________________ Parish Bereavement Team:A Bereavement Team will meet with the family or designated contact to assist in the preparations.
Vigil Service:There will be a Vigil Service during the wake, (Order of Catholic Funerals (OCF) #82) usually on the evening preceding the Funeral Service. This is an ecumenical scripture service and may include favorite hymns and shared memories of the loved one. Along with family and friends, the Presiding Priest and a Cantor will normally attend. The Bereavement Team will guide the mourners in the preparation of the service.
Closing the Casket:The parish offers a short Prayer Service at this difficult time at the request of the family. It may be led by a member of the Pastoral or Bereavement Team, or by a family member or friend.
Funeral Mass or Funeral Liturgy Outside Mass:The family, in consultation with the Pastoral Team, may choose to celebrate a Funeral Liturgy outside Mass.
Time of Funeral Mass:Funerals at _______________ Parish are celebrated at the regular Parish weekday Mass time of _______________, so that the parish community can lends its support and strength to those who are mourning. (OCF #11).
Pall:This large white cloth, “a reminder of the garment given in baptism and therefore
signifying life in Christ” (OCF #301), is placed on the casket during the Reception at the Church by family members, friends, or other members of the community.
The Flag:For Catholics, the Baptism of the person is still the most basic identity, and Christian symbols reminding us of the person’s Baptism should not be displaced by other symbols. If the family want to have the flag placed on the coffin while it is being transported to and from the church, it can then be respectfully removed just before the Pall is placed, and replaced as the coffin is being transported out of the church. (OCF #301)
Mementos:Pictures, articles from home, Books of remembrance, etc., may be permitted in the Gathering Space, but never on the casket, or beside it at the front of the Church.
Funeral Liturgy Preparation:
Readings:A copy of the texts of Sacred Scripture suggested for Funeral Services will be provided . The Bereavement Team may assist the mourners in choosing the two readings if requested. Parish Readers are available to read, but if family members, or other people of faith want to carry out this ministry, a rehearsal time will be allotted.
Homily:“A brief homily based on the readings should be given at the funeral liturgy, but never any kind of eulogy.” (OCF #308)
Intercessions:Models of Intercessions will be provided to the mourners. These may be adapted or new ones composed in consultation with the Bereavement Team. They are normally read by the second reader.
Preparation of the Gifts:
Only the bread and wine are brought forward by the giftbearer who may be family members or friends.
The Bereavement Team will assist in preparing the gift-bearers.
Music:Music for Funerals may be left to the discretion of the music team, or chosen in consultation with the Bereavement Team &/or the Music Director.
Music is integral to all our Liturgical Celebrations (OCF #30) and needs to be chosen with care. The role of music in the Funeral Liturgy is to “support, console, and uplift the participants and should help to create in them a spirit of hope in Christ’s victory over death and in the Christian’s share in that victory’. (National Liturgy Bulletin (NLB), Vol.22, p.241). As at our Sunday and weekday liturgies, the gathered Assembly participates as fully as possible.
The Acclamations, Responsorial Psalm, and Hymns are to be chosen from the Parish hymnal, Catholic Book of Worship III (CBW3).
Acclamations:Those used by the Parish (Holy Holy, Proclamation of Faith, Great Amen, and Gospel Acclamation) are found in CBW3, and change with the liturgical season.
This Psalm is always sung from the Ambo with the Assembly responding.
Often a Psalmist other than the Cantor carries out this ministry.
A couple of examples are: Psalm 23 (CBW3 #53), “The Lord Is My Shepherd,” or Psalm 25 (CBW3 #16) “To You O Lord I Lift My Soul.” Many examples can be found in the CBW3 Index under ‘Psalms for the Funeral Liturgy.’
Gathering Hymn:Our Gathering Hymn is a processional Hymn of Praise that expresses the Paschal Mystery of the Lord’s suffering, death, and triumph over sin and death (OCF #30). A couple of examples are: “Alleluia, Give Thanks to the Risen Lord” (CBW3 # 383) or “Sing With All the Saints in Glory” (CBW3 #406). See CBW3 Index at ‘Victory Over Sin and Death’ for many others. This is not a time for meditative or reflective hymns.
Instrumental music may accompany the procession with the gifts, or
A short hymn that speaks of hope, comfort or consolations may be chosen. A couple of examples are: “Healer of Our Every Ill” (CBW3 #363) or “Blest Are They” (CBW3 # 522). See Index under ‘Order of Christian Funerals’ for other examples).
Communion Hymn:During Communion, an antiphonal hymn that expresses the ritual action of eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Christ is sung. A couple of examples are “Eat this Bread” (CBW3 # 602) and “Bread of Life” (CBW3 #597). See the CBW3 Index at ‘Communion Processional Hymns’ for many others known in the parish.
Song of Farewell:Either “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (CBW3 #10A) or “Songs of the Angels” (CBW3 #10C) are the Songs of Farewell known in the parish.
Closing or Missioning Hymn: This congregational hymn of praise again expresses Christ’s Victory Over Sin and Death. A couple of examples might be: “O Lord You Died that All Might Live” (CBW3 #642) or “Sing a New Song” (CBW3 #563). See the CBW3 Index at ‘Deliverance, Dying and Rising with Christ, and Easter Season.’
Cantor:Normally the parish will provide the Cantor for the funeral celebration. Our Parish custom of gathering at the entrance of the church, walking in procession, and encouraging Assembly singing as much as possible is often not familiar to outside Cantors. If however a Cantor from another parish is requested and is willing to follow our parish guidelines, the Music Director will work with that person.
Organist: Normally the Parish Organist or Assistant Organist will play for the funeral celebration. If an organist from another parish is requested, is familiar with the use of the Pipe Organ, and understands the way we celebrate our liturgy, the Music Director will work with that person.
Marian Hymns:The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy speaks of the honour we show to Mary, Mother of God, and the Church sets aside certain days on which we celebrate the events of her life. Marian hymns, an important part of our tradition, are particularly appropriate on her feast days and during Advent when the scriptural texts speak of Mary’s role in our redemption. At a Funeral Mass however, the liturgical texts, the readings and prayers, express the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s suffering death and resurrection. Hymns to Mary - and other hymns - can be accommodated at the Vigil Service when family and friends gather to reflect on God’s word, share memories, and speak of God’s great love for all of us, as expressed in the life of our loved one who has died.
NOTE: Every effort will be made to accommodate the music preferences of the bereaved within these guidelines. The Music Director (Phone _________) would be glad to help with any decisions or questions concerning the choices of hymns.