St. Catherine’s would like to extend our condolences during this difficult time. We know that you will have many decisions to make. The clergy and staff of St. Catherine’s have provided this guide to assist you in helping you preparing for the funeral liturgy of your loved.
The celebration of the Christian funeral brings hope and consolation to the living. While proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and witnessing to Christian hope in the resurrection, the funeral rites also recall to all who take part in them God’s mercy and judgment and meet the human need to turn always to God in times of crisis.
Order of Christian Funerals, no. 7
When to Contact St. Catherine’s
When you loved one has passed, please contact the parish office as soon as possible, so that we can assist you in preparing for the funeral for your loved one. Whether or not your loved one or your family have been active members of the Church, we still invite you to contact us so that we can assist you.
Frequently Asked Questions
My child died before baptism. May we still have a Catholic funeral?
A child who dies before receiving the Sacrament of Baptism may be given Catholic funeral rites if the parents intended to have the child baptized.
My sister had been away from the Church for some time before her passing. May she still have a Catholic funeral?
Every Catholic, unless specifically excluded according to the norms of law, is entitled to the church’s ministry at the time of death. In the funeral rites, we pray for God’s mercy for the deceased and solace for the living. The rites do not presume a life of exemplary faith or virtue, but acknowledge our faith in the generous grace of God.
My father was a decorated military veteran. Why can we not keep the American flag on his casket during the funeral mass?
Rich or poor, saint or sinner, ordained or lay, veteran, or member of a religious order, all are draped with the funeral pall for the Rite of Christian Burial as a sign of our common baptism. In the Church, we are all equal, for none of us have earned our salvation. Whatever sort of life we have lived, our faith and hope are in God’s free gift of grace, symbolized at the beginning by the white garment of baptism and the white funeral pall at our funeral.
American flags and other non-Christian (i.e., secular) symbols do not belong on the casket during the liturgy since they do not evoke the same meaning as the pall.
Flags and other insignia may cover the casket before and after the funeral liturgy. However, Christian symbols such as a crucifix, rosary beads, a Bible or a prayer book are permitted to be placed on the pall that covers the casket
My mother wished to be cremated and to have her ashes scattered. Are Catholics allowed to be cremated? May we scatter her ashes?
The Catholic Church permits cremation unless it is evident that cremation was chosen for reasons that contradict Christian teaching, particularly on the dignity of and hope for the resurrection of the human body. However, in order to express the symbolism described above, the body of the deceased should be present for the funeral rites and cremation should occur after the celebration of the funeral liturgy.
In the Diocese of Sacramento, a funeral mass may be celebrated in the presence of cremated remains upon the approval of the pastor of the parish. In those cases, adaptations to the funeral rites have been prepared for these circumstances.
The cremated remains should be treated with the same respect and dignity given to the human body from which it came. The cremated remains should be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium. The practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or keeping the cremated remains in the home of a relative or friend, of the deceased are not reverent dispositions that the Church requires.
My friend was a Catechumen in RCIA, but died before he was able to be baptized. May he still have a Catholic funeral?
Catechumens are entitled to the full rite of Christian Burial.
My brother committed suicide. Does this mean he cannot have a Catholic funeral?
Suicide is very often the result of mental illness. The circumstances surrounding such a death are often unclear. Suicide in and of itself is not a reason for denying funeral rites. We simply entrust the deceased to the loving mercy of God.
Planning the Funeral Vigil and Mass
During the meeting with the parish staff, we will schedule the funeral vigil and mass. We will also assist you in selecting the readings and music for both.
In every celebration for the dead, the Church attaches great importance to the reading of the word of God. The readings proclaim to the assembly the paschal mystery, teach remembrance of the dead, convey the hope of being gathered together again in God’s kingdom, and encourage the witness of Christian life. Above all, the readings tell of God’s designs for a world in which suffering and death will relinquish their hold on all whom God has called his own. A careful selection and use of readings from Scripture for the funeral rites will provide the family and the community with an opportunity to hear God speak to them in their needs, sorrows, fears, and hopes.
Order of Christian Funerals, no. 30
The parish staff can provide you with resources for selecting scripture readings. It is important that the readers be chosen and prepared to proclaim the scriptures. Members of the family or friends who are Catholic, may assist with the readings at the vigil or Mass if their grief will not make this too burdensome.
Music is integral to the funeral rites. It allows the community to express convictions and feelings that words alone may fail to convey. It has the power to console and uplift the mourners and to strengthen the unity of the assembly in faith and love. The texts of the songs chosen for a particular celebration should express the paschal mystery of the Lord’s suffering, death, and triumph over death and should be related to the readings from Scripture.
Order of Christian Funerals, no. 33
St. Catherine’s can provide a parish musician to assist in selecting sacred music for the funeral rites. All Catholic liturgy is communal prayer, in which all who are gather may participate. Our parish hymnal, Journey Songs, is an excellent starting place for looking for appropriate music.
Secular music is not appropriate for a Catholic funeral. Popular songs that were important to the deceased may be used during the reception or other family gatherings.
A family member or friend may speak briefly on behalf of the family. Statements about the deceased should describe the person’s relationship to God, family, and community, or the Christian legacy left behind for others to learn from. Video retrospectives on the life of the deceased are not permitted during the funeral rites inside the Church. These presentations are well suited to the reception or other occasions.
During the funeral vigil the number of people giving eulogies or telling stories about the deceased family is not prescribed. the number of speakers should be pre-arranged between the family and the vigil presider. An “open-mic” format is not appropriate for the liturgy, but additional speakers may share their reflections during a reception or another appropriate time. Eulogies may be offered following the concluding prayer of the funeral vigil and before the concluding rite, as shown below.
During the funeral mass, the number of eulogies should be limited to one person. It may be given after the Prayer after Communion and before the Final Commendation. The eulogies should last between 3 and 5 minutes and should be well prepared in advance.
In accordance with the policies of the Diocese of Sacramento and the other dioceses within the Ecclesiastical Province of San Francisco, the suggested donation for funerals is $200.00.
No one will be denied a Catholic funeral because of lack of money, so please let us know how we can help if you cannot make the suggested donation.
The funeral vigil is celebrated between the time of death and the funeral mass, often on the day before or evening before the funeral mass.
The vigil usually takes place at a funeral home or in the church.
A priest, deacon, or layperson may preside at the vigil. The parish staff, we will arrange for one of them to preside over the vigil.
Outline of the Funeral Vigil
The vigil consists mainly of readings of sacred scripture, songs, psalms, and intercessory prayers. The presider will give a brief homily/reflection. The vigil service is the preferred time for family and friends to offer stories, reflections, and eulogies on the life of the deceased. Devotional prayers, such as the rosary, may not replace the vigil service, but may be added.
Invitation to Prayer
Liturgy of the Word
Prayer of Intercession
The Lord’s Prayer
Eulogies (see above)
The Funeral Mass
The funeral Mass is normally celebrated the evening before or on the day of the burial/committal.
The funeral mass takes place at St. Catherine’s.
A priest will preside over the funeral mass.
Outline of the Funeral Mass
The mass will vary slightly from a typical mass because it will include special rites and prayers for the deceased.
Sprinkling with Holy Water
Placing of the Pall
Placing of Christian Symbols
Collect (Opening Prayer)
Liturgy of the Word
Alleluia (or Gospel Acclamation during Lent)
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Presentation and Preparation of the Gifts
Prayer over the Offerings
Sign of Peace
Fraction of the Bread
Invitation to Communion
Communion Antiphon or Hymn
Song of Praise and Period of Silence
Prayer after Communion
Invitation to Prayer
Signs of Farewell
Song of Farewell
Prayer of Commendation
Procession to the Place of Committal
Rite of Committal
The burial/committal takes place as soon as possible after the funeral mass.
The rite of committal takes place beside the open grave or place of internment. If this is not possible it may take place at the cemetery chapel.
A priest, deacon, or layperson may preside at this service.
Outline of the Rite of Committal
Prayer over the Place of Committal
The Lord’s Prayer
Prayer over the People