Funerals at St Catherine of Siena Parish
Preparing for a Funeral
When a loved one dies, the family of the deceased should contact a Funeral Director who will then liaise with the Parish Office re availability of the Priest and church. The Priest will then meet with the family to co-ordinate the Funeral rites. This may include vigil prayers, a viewing, a wake service, or a rosary either, the evening before, or immediately preceding the Funeral Mass. Advice on preparing the family's words of tribute can also be given.
Funeral Masses may be celebrated on any day except for Sundays, Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday inclusive, Christmas Day and the Assumption of Our Lady, August 15.
The Funeral Liturgy
These days, it is usual to have a booklet prepared to assist all present to participate fully and actively in the Mass. Your Funeral Director will be able to assist in this, if not contact the Parish Office.
The Funeral Service
The funeral service is usually celebrated with a Mass including prayers for the deceased. This is primarily an expression of our belief in the Resurrection. At a Christian funeral, we praise God and give to Him our deceased relative, commending him or her to God's love.
The priest may invite you to choose these from the suggested Funeral Mass readings or you may decide to choose readings from each of the Old and New testaments and a Gospel reading that you feel are especially relevant to your deceased loved one.
Different members of the family are encouraged to read the first reading, the responsorial psalm, and the second reading. It is very important that they practice the readings (reading aloud in front of a mirror is very helpful).
The Prayers of the Faithful
The Prayers of the Faithful provide another opportunity to personalize the celebration of the deceased's life and to enable family members to participate. The priest may suggest that you use prepared intercessions or, he may invite you to write your own intercessions using a similar format.
The priest introduces the readers with a brief prayer and follows up with a concluding prayer. After reading the intercession, take a slight pause before saying ‘Lord, in your mercy’ to which all respond ‘Lord, hear our prayer’.
During the introductory rites, the community welcomes the body and the priest sprinkles the coffin with holy water. Holy water is a reminder of our Baptism which was the beginning of our life in Christ. This sprinkling is a symbol of a new life in Christ.
The Paschal Candle is placed near the coffin and is usually lit by a family member. In this way, it symbolizes Baptism as a death and Resurrection in Christ, and testifies to Christian certainty in the resurrection of the dead as well as to the fact that all are alive in the risen Christ.
If desired, a pall - a white cloth, is placed on the coffin by family members. The pall is a reminder of the white garment received in Baptism. The tender, graceful covering of the coffin is a respectful caring for the deceased person, clothing them in a white garment for the last time.
Words of Remembrance
The Order of Christian Funerals (OCF) provides that a member or friend of the family may speak briefly in remembrance of the deceased after the Communion Prayer and before the Final Commendation.
- Parishes are to develop clear and helpful pastoral practices regarding ‘speaking in remembrance of the deceased’.
- ‘Words of remembrance’ at the Funeral Mass are to be respected as an option within the rite. In some circumstances, it may be preferable that only the liturgical celebrant speak.
- There should be only one person to speak rather than a series of speakers.
- The reflection should be about the deceased person’s human qualities (including their life of faith), and how these qualities can inspire the hearers.
- The words of remembrance should speak honestly and compassionately, reflecting the circumstances of the life of the deceased.
- The reflection should be of reasonable length (say no more than 5-7 minutes).
- The reflection should be written out ahead of time and where possible reviewed with the celebrant beforehand.
- Pastors should suggest that the storytelling, anecdotes, poems, songs, etc., can well form part of the Vigil Service or be used in a domestic situation.
A suggested approach to preparing the Words of Remembrance
- Characteristics and qualities of the life of the deceased and how these may reflect the deceased’s life of faith or be of inspiration to the hearers.
- How can this person be best remembered.
- How our relationship with this person is maintained even in death and how we look forward to meeting again.
We hope that these points may help you to prepare for the Funeral and that the day itself may remain always in your mind as a prayerful and loving farewell to your loved one.