Frequently Asked Questions
Related to the Death and Burial of a Loved One
What do I do when a loved one is sick and is dying?
1. Contact the office of the loved one’s parish church and ask to speak to a priest.
2. If you use Hospice they will often contact the parish and request the sacraments for the sick and dying.
3. Don’t wait until death is imminent before contacting the parish priest. Parish priests very much want to be there for a family in the time of final illness, death and grief, and they want to give the dying person the opportunity to ask questions, seek counsel and comfort, and receive the Lord's grace through the Sacraments. (ex. A person who has been intubated can be anointed but clearly cannot receive the Eucharist.)
What do I do when a loved one dies?
1. Contact a local funeral home of your choice. He/she will establish initial contact with the parish church.
2. The priest, parish liturgy committee or bereavement committee will assist a family in making appropriate liturgical arrangements such as scripture readings, lector for the readings and musical selections.
3. Contact Catholic Cemeteries to set up a pre-interment meeting.
What is the proper rite of Christian burial?
1. Viewing at the funeral home or parish church
2. Mass of Christian Burial at the deceased’s parish church
3. Committal services at the cemetery (For Catholics burial in the sacred ground of a Catholic cemetery is the preferred place of burial. However, the priest can and will bless the ground of a non-Catholic gravesite.)
Why have a Catholic Funeral/Funeral Mass?
The primary purpose of a funeral is to pray for the deceased (click here to read about why we pray for the dead.) There is another, although secondary, reason to have a funeral Mass. It provides a solemn and ritualized opportunity to find closure and to grieve. Some families decide not to have a funeral at all simply because they think it will be easier for small children, who they wish to shield from further sorrow or pain. However, many of these families find that it is, in fact, more difficult for their families to grieve and move forward because they did not have the formalized opportunity provided by a funeral.
My family member told us that they don't want a big service or funeral. What should I do?
It is important to be considerate of the deceased wishes. For example, we often ask if the deceased had a favorite hymn or scripture verse that would be appropriate to have in the funeral service. However, we should not only consider what the person wished when they were alive. It is important to consider what they want now. We believe that if a person who has died is destined for heaven (as we hope and pray), then they now see clearly that to have a Mass prayed for their soul is exactly what they want as they go through their final purification in purgatory.
Can we have the deceased person cremated?
The Church does allow for the cremations of remains, but there are certain guidelines we must follow to ensure that the cremated remains are still properly respected in accordance with our beliefs in the future Resurrection of our bodies. If you are considering cremation for your deceased family member, please click here to read more about these guidelines.
What are the options for a viewing?
You can schedule a viewing the evening before the burial and/or an hour or so before the Mass of Christian Burial. The viewing is usually held in a funeral home, however, in many instances, the parish priest may authorize viewing in the parish church especially if there is a separate area of the church available for such use.
Why have a viewing?
It provides a sense of closure and allows family members who were not present at the time of death a time to express their last farewell. It also allows extended family and friends an opportunity to express their support and condolences.
What about a eulogy for the deceased?
We are not able to accommodate having a eulogy during the actual funeral service. However, if it is requested, a designated person can say a few words (prepared in advance) before the funeral begins. However, the best times to have a eulogy or time of remembrance would be during the visitation or during the funeral luncheon. These are relaxed, intimate spaces and times that are perfect for people to share memories, stories, or even eulogize about the deceased.
My deceased family member was not an actively practicing Catholic, can we still have a Mass of Christian burial?
Yes, the Church encourages active and inactive Catholics to take full advantage of the rite of Christian burial. Don't be worried if you have no idea where to start. The funeral home and the parish will help you every step of the way.
What are my options for paying cemetery fees? See the page entitled 'cemetery' for all questions involving the cemetery.