Christian Burial

While not a sacrament, the mass of Christian Burial will be discussed here.

At the death of a loved one, please contact the funeral home of your choice. The funeral home will then get in touch with the Parish Center to schedule a priest and funeral date. Grieving for a loved one is a natural process. Please know that we are here to help you and support you during this difficult time. Healing from the pain of grief can begin through the planning of your loved one’s funeral. This can be a personal and loving celebration of that person’s life and it can also be an opportunity for your family to begin the healing process at this time. For this reason, the Church not only permits, but also encourages, families to become involved n the planning of the funeral. You may select hymns and readings for all the services, and if you choose, you may write the Prayers of the Faithful (the petitions / General Intercessions). We invite you to reflect on them and to choose:

Readings from the Hebrew (Old) Testament

Selections from the Psalms

Readings from the new Testament and Gospel readings

Three or four appropriate petitions for the General Intercessions

These may be included in the Vigil and the Funeral Liturgy

The Rites:

The Catholic Church offers distinct occasions for common prayer at the time of funerals. The Order of Christian Funeral contains three related Rites:

The Vigil

The Funeral Liturgy and the Final Commendation and Farewell

The Rite of Committal

Depending on the situation and with the approval of the priest, any single rite may be used as the sole Funeral Rite. Consultation with your priest or bereavement minister can help determine your funeral selections.

The Vigil:

This Rite, presided over by a priest, a deacon, or a prepared layperson (or a member of your family) general consists of:

Introductory Rite

Liturgy of the Word

Intercessory Prayer

Concluding Rite


The rosary may be recited by the family at a time other than the Vigil. However, a rosary may be included in the Vigil in part or in full.

If the family chooses to have eulogies it is recommended for them to be at the Vigil

The Funeral Liturgy:

The Funeral Liturgy (Mass) is the principal celebration. Generally, the Funeral Liturgy comprises:

The Rite of Reception (unless already celebrated as part of the Vigil)

The Liturgy of the Word

The Liturgy of the Eucharist

The Final Commendation and Farewell

The priest presides at mass and may be assisted by a complement of liturgical ministers–lectors, cantor, musicians, servers, etc. These ministerial roles are performed by trained parish ministers or by members of your family or friends, who are properly prepared.

The Rite of Committal:

The Rite of Committal, the final Funeral Rites, may be presided over by priest, deacon, or layperson. It is best celebrated in close proximity to the actual burial place–grave, tomb or crematorium.

The Memorial Service or Memorial Mass:

If, for some reason, your family and mourners are prevented from gathering immediately after death for the Funeral Rites, a Memorial Service or Memorial mass may be celebrated at a later time. The priest, deacon, or bishop is the ordinary minister for the Catholic Funeral Rites. However, in their absence, lay ministers may preside at all Rites except the Funeral Liturgy (Mass).


All music and songs for the Funeral Liturgy are to be selected in accordance with the Catholic Church’s Liturgical guidelines and must be approved by the Priests or Music Director.


The predominant Church Symbols, such as the Pall (which is the white cloth covering the coffin, symbolizing the Baptismal garment). Incense and Holy Water, the Book of Scriptures, the Cross, and the Easter Candle, are to be highlighted during the funeral Rites, especially at the Funeral Liturgy. Appropriate symbols of Christian Life, such as a book of the Gospels, a Bible, a cross, a rosary, devotional books, may be carried in the Entrance Procession by your family, then placed on the coffin at the Funeral Mass. National or cultural symbols (for example, flags or insignia of associations) are not to be used during the Funeral Rites. One’s affiliation with the community of faith is the reason for our prayer, not one’s service to country or one’s affiliation with other services. However, these other symbols may be present at the funeral chapel, in procession to and from the church, in the vestibule of the church, and at the Rite of Committal.


Although the traditional burial procedure, which reflects respect for the body and belief in the resurrection of the body, is still normal Catholic practice, the Catholic Church allows cremation for justifiable reasons. Cremation would ordinarily take place after the Funeral Liturgy. Remains should never be scattered or handled in an undignified manner, but are to be interred or inurned in a cemetery columbarium. Cremated remains in the view of the Catholic Church are to be treated with reverence and respect and, therefore, must be either buried or entombed.