- A letter from our Rector
- About our Bereavement Ministry
- Where to begin
- An Overview of the Catholic Funeral
- About the Funeral Liturgy
We offer condolences on the loss of your loved one. We realize that this is a difficult time, and we want to be a source of assistance and support. The guidelines provided in these webpages are offered as a resource for planning the various stations, or parts, of the funeral for your loved one. Please take note of the Cathedral Bereavement Ministry and other support programs that we offer as part of our Parish Ministry. They may be a source of comfort for you and your family.
Know that your loved one will be remembered in the prayers of our parishioners and at Masses during the week of your loved one’s funeral. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to assist you, not only during these days, but in the period of grief that follows.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Louis A. Bianco
The Bereavement Ministry is a parishioner-led service of compassion and spiritual support to families as they plan funeral services for or with a loved one. Our Bereavement Ministers will assist you with pre-planning your loved one’s funeral service and coordinate liturgical logistics during the funeral service. Our mission is to enable families to celebrate the life of their loved ones without the stress of funeral coordination. A Family Coordinator is assigned to each family to coordinate the following services.
- Contact with families after receiving notice of death, or prior to death in conjunction with parish visitation ministry to home-bound and sick parishioners
- Pre-Plan the funeral liturgy during last stages of life of a loved one
- Assist with planning of the funeral Mass and family participation in the liturgy
- Assist in preparation and publishing of the funeral worship program
- Provide day of funeral liturgy support as needed (greeters, eucharistic ministers, funeral director coordination and training of family participants in the liturgy)
- Provide Shepherd’s Guides to help families for the first year after their loss
- Invite family of deceased to All Souls Day Celebration honoring their loved ones
Bereavement Family Coordinators
- Carolyn Knott
- Frank Knott
- Tom Peddicord
We encourage you to start by reading this document - it contains questions for your family to ponder before (if possible/desired) and at the meeting with your Bereavement Family Coordinator.
Next, we encourage you to read over (and print/begin to fill out, if desired - not required) the funeral planning form. This is the document the Bereavement Family Coordinator will fill out with you at your meeting with them.
If needed when planning (see funeral planning form above), here are some ideas of prayers to include on the program.
The Catholic funeral rite is divided into several stations, or parts, each with its own purpose. For this reason, we recommend following the complete structure and making use of each station.
Vigil Service (Wake)
The Vigil Service usually takes place during the period of visitation and viewing at the funeral home. It is a time to remember the life of the deceased and to commend him/her to God. In prayer, we ask God to console us in our grief and give us strength to support one another.
The Vigil Service can take the form of a Service of the Word with readings from Sacred Scripture accompanied by reflection and prayers. It can also take the form of one of the prayers of the Office for the Dead from the Liturgy of Hours. The clergy and your funeral director can assist in planning the service.
It is most appropriate, when family and friends are gathered together for visitation, to offer time for recalling the life of the deceased. For this reason, we encourage eulogies to be done at the funeral home during visitation or at the Vigil Service.
The funeral liturgy is the central liturgical celebration of the Christian community for the deceased. When one of its members dies, the Church encourages the celebration of the funeral liturgy at a Mass. When a Mass cannot be celebrated, a funeral liturgy outside Mass can be celebrated at the church or in the funeral home.
At the funeral Mass, the Church gathers with the family and friends of the deceased to give praise and thanks to God for Christ’s victory over sin and death, to commend the deceased to God’s tender mercy and compassion, and to seek strength in the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery. The funeral Mass, therefore, is an act of worship, and not merely an expression of grief.
Rite of Committal (Burial or Internment)
The Rite of Committal, the conclusion of the funeral rite, is the final act of the community of faith in caring for the body of its deceased member. It should normally be celebrated at the place of committal, that is, beside the open grave or place of internment. In committing the body to its resting place, the community expresses the hope that, with all those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, the deceased awaits the glory of the resurrection. The Rite of Committal is an expression of the communion that exists between the Church on earth and Church in heaven: the deceased passes with the farewell prayers of the community of believers into the welcoming company of those who need faith no longer, but see God face-to-face. Questions about the format of the committal service can be answered by the celebrant.
The process of grieving and mourning may be aided by participating in the preparation and planning of the funeral rites for a loved one. This gesture of care will allow the funeral to be an expression of one’s own grief at a time of loss, as well as one’s faith in Jesus and His cross and resurrection. Attention to details that follow will also aid the priests and the staff at the Cathedral in our ministry to family and friends of the deceased.
Structure of Funeral Mass: The normal structure of the funeral Mass is as follows:
- Seating of family members
- Gathering Hymn and Procession
- Reception of the Body
- Greeting and Introduction
- Sprinkling of the Body with Holy Water
- Placing of the Pall
- Placing of Christian Symbols (optional)
- Eulogy (optional)
- Opening Prayer
- Liturgy of the Word
- Old Testament Reading
- Responsorial Psalm (sung)
- New Testament Reading
- Gospel Acclamation (sung)
- Gospel Reading
- Prayer of the Faithful
- Liturgy of the Eucharist
- Presentation of the Gifts
- Eucharistic Prayer (with sung acclamations)
- The Lord’s Prayer and the Sign of Peace
- Prayer after Communion
- Final Commendation
- Song of Farewell and Incensation of the Body
- Prayer of Commendation
- Procession to the Place of Committal and Closing Hymn
Placing of the Funeral Pall: It is our custom to place a pall, a decorated white cloth, on the casket/urn at the beginning of the funeral Mass as a reminder of the garment given at Baptism, thereby signifying life in Christ. Since the deceased would have been dressed in his or her baptismal garment by his or her parents and godparents, the family may wish to participate in this ritual gesture at the funeral.
Lectors: It is proper for a lay person to proclaim the First and Second Readings from Scripture and to announce the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. The nature of the word of God requires that such persons be persons of faith and effective public speakers. It is appropriate that readers be people other than immediate family members. Lectors will be given copies of the readings in advance so they can practice their readings.
Scripture Readings: It is appropriate to assist the celebrant in choosing texts from Sacred Scripture for the funeral Mass. Normally, four Scripture Readings are chosen: one from the Old Testament, one from the psalms, one from the New Testament – epistles, and one from the Gospels. Suggested Scripture passages are listed in the Funeral planning form (top of this page).
Offertory Procession: It is appropriate for members of the family to carry the gifts of bread and wine for the Eucharist. This symbolizes the offering of ourselves and the offering of the deceased back to God.
Music for the Funeral: Music plays an integral part in the liturgy of the Church, and at funerals it allows the community to express convictions and feelings that words alone may not convey. Music has the power to console and uplift the mourners and to strengthen the unity of the assembly in faith and love. The Cathedral Director of Music Ministry and his staff take great care in selecting and presenting music that creates a spirit of hope in Christ’s victory over death and sin and in the Christian’s share in that victory. The Cathedral Organist/Director of Music and a Cathedral Cantor are provided for the funeral Mass. Family members may wish to discuss musical selections for the funeral Mass with the Director. Due to the sacred nature of the liturgy, not all music is appropriate for use at the funeral Mass. Please contact the Director of Music Ministry directly to discuss any needs you have in regard to music.
Suggested music selections are listed on the Funeral Planning Form (top of this page).
Programs: A simple program for the funeral liturgy is provided by the Cathedral. The program is based on the information provided by the family. A more elaborate program can be provided by the family, however, the program must be reviewed by both the priest and music director before it is printed. It is customary to include a prayer on the last page of the program.
Altar Servers: Altar servers for funerals are provided by the Cathedral.
Visiting Clergy: We welcome the participation of clergy who are friends or relatives. If a visiting priest is to be the celebrant for the funeral, please share these guidelines with him at the time arrangements are made. Visiting clergy should also contact the Cathedral clergy to discuss arrangements.
Eulogies: The grieving process necessarily includes time to remember the life of the deceased. In the Catholic funeral rite, this is most appropriately done during the time of visitation or even at the Vigil (Wake) Service. Since the funeral Mass is primarily the time for praise and thanks for God’s gift of new life in Jesus, we discourage the inclusion of a eulogy at the Mass. If a eulogy is to be included at the funeral Mass, there can be only one speaker, and the reflection may be no more than five minutes long.
Flowers: It is appropriate to bring floral arrangements from the funeral home to the Cathedral for placement in the Sanctuary during the funeral Mass. An exception is during Lent - flowers are not permitted in the church during Lent. Please discuss what is appropriate and effective with the Bereavement Family Coordinator and the funeral director. It is also appropriate to order flowers to be delivered directly from a florist to the Cathedral.
The Church and Cremation: The Christian faithful are confronted with the mystery of life and death in the presence of the body of one who has died. Moreover, the body which lies in death naturally recalls the personal story of faith, the loving family bonds, the friendships, and the words and acts of the deceased person. The body of a deceased Catholic Christian is also the body once washed in Baptism, anointed with the oil of salvation, and fed with the Bread of Life. Thus, the Church’s reverence for the sacredness of the human body grows out of a reverence and concern both natural and supernatural for the human person.
While cremation is now permitted by the Church, it is our recommendation that cremation, when chosen, take place after the funeral rites, so that our acts of prayer and worship in grief may take place in the presence of the body as one final act of love and respect for the deceased. When it is not possible to delay cremation until after the funeral rites are celebrated, the cremated remains of the deceased may be brought to the Church for the funeral Mass provided there is an appropriate plan for their internment. The cremated remains of a body should be treated with the same respect given to the human body from which they came. This includes the use of a worthy vessel to contain the ashes and a respectful manner of internment.
Seating Capacity: Funerals can be celebrated in the main body of the Cathedral (capacity 1,400) or in the Lady Chapel (capacity 80), located behind the main Sanctuary at the west end of the Cathedral.