Celebrating Christian Funerals

One of the most significant moments in the story of a family will be the celebration of the funeral of a beloved family member. The Church wishes to support and help families through this difficult time. There are a number of choices available to families at this time: the Church does not wish to impose or make things more complicated, but would like to ensure that every funeral is celebrated in a way which offers effective support to the bereaved, and fulfills our obligation to pray for the faithful departed.

The first choice a family will make will concern the place and form of the funeral service. The Catholic Church offers a number of alternatives:

  • Funeral Mass in Church followed by Committal at a Cemetery or Crematorium
  • Funeral Service in Church followed by Commital at a Cemetery or Crematorium
  • Funeral Service in a Cemetery Chapel followed by Burial
  • Funeral Service in a Crematorium (which may also be followed some time later by a Service for the Burial of Ashes)

There are other services available: if the Funeral takes place in Church, then the family may wish the Body of the Deceased to be welcomed into Church the night before. There may also be gatherings of prayer before the funeral, such as Prayers in the Funeral Home.

In making a decision, families should consider the following: each of these options is a "full" funeral - there can be the perception that the Funeral Mass is the "proper" Catholic Funeral, and other options are "second best". This is not the case. While the Mass is the preferred option for Catholics, it may be that this is not suitable for a particular individual or family. It is always best to discuss the options with the priest (or whoever prepares funerals in your parish) before making decisions with the Funeral Directors.

The leaflets below offer some advice on the different celebrations. Please feel free to download and print these.

The Funeral Mass

The Funeral Service in Church or Cemetery Chapel

The Funeral Service at a Crematorium

The Vigil for the Deceased with Reception of the Body

Burial of Ashes

The non-Gospel Readings for the Funeral Mass can be found here.