Plan A Funeral


The death of a loved one can be one of life's most difficult moments. The depth of our grief is determined by the closeness of our relationship to the person who died and to the circumstances surrounding the death.

Grieving is a process that takes time. We do not get over a loved one's death; rather, we integrate his/her memory into our lives and become reconciled to life without that person.

Our trust in God teaches and informs us that life is not taken away, it is changed.

As Catholic Christians we have a set of rituals to help orient us and get us through the initial days of loss. We can better manage our loss by placing it in the context of religious faith; this is a reverential way to complete the journey of the deceased.


The funeral is often the first public experience of our loss, for some it is the beginning of the mourning process. The Catholic community has an order or path for walking the difficult days after a loved one's death: the Vigil (wake,) the Funeral Mass, and the Rite of Committal. Each prayerful stop on this path marks a significant moment of grieving, support, and hope.


The principal rite celebrated by the Christian community between the death of a loved one and the Funeral Mass is the Vigil, or wake. Most often in our area, the Vigil takes place in the funeral home. It is a time for friends, neighbors, and members of the parish to show concern for the family of the deceased by gathering for prayer.

Pictures of the deceased loved one can be displayed, favorite songs can be played, and family and friends can offer words of remembrance. A priest, deacon, or lay person may lead these prayers.


At the Funeral Mass, family and friends of the deceased gather to give thanks, to commend the deceased to God's tender mercy, and to console one another. The family is encouraged to participate in the funeral liturgy in a number of ways. This participation invites all to express their sorrow in these religious rituals and to continue the mourning process. To assist you with planning the Mass, a planning sheet has been provided.

The Funeral Mass begins when the priest greets the family and others who have accompanied the coffin at the door of the church. The priest sprinkles the coffin with

holy water in remembrance of the deceased person's initiation and first acceptance into the community of faith.


The coffin is completely covered with a white funeral pall. This white cloth reminds us that the deceased was given the promise of eternal life at baptism. Now at death, he/she prepares to enter into eternal life. Family or friends may place the pall on the casket.

If a sacred symbol (crucifix or Bible) is to be placed on the coffin, it is carried in the procession and is placed on the coffin by a family member, friend, or the priest.


The Word of God brings hope and consolation. There are two or three readings from the Bible at the Funeral Mass. The first reading is from the Old Testament and the second is from the New Testament. The family is encouraged to choose the first two readings. The priest or deacon proclaims the Gospel, the third reading, taken from the New Testament and preaches a homily based on the Scripture readings.


Family members are invited to carry up the gifts of bread and wine. Some families invite children and grandchildren to participate in the offertory procession. Although we can only provide up to four gifts, those not having items to carry may still join the procession.


After Holy Communion there is an opportunity for one family member or friend to say a few words in remembrance of the deceased loved one. Kindly speak to the priest before the funeral.

Please adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Prepare and write out remarks in advance.
  2. Limit remarks to five minutes.
  3. Crass jokes and vulgar language are inappropriate for a church setting.
  4. Include references to faith, God, prayer, etc. in the life of the deceased.


Music is an integral part of worship during funeral liturgies and can be most helpful in grieving. Secular music is not appropriate for the Funeral Mass, but may be suitable for the Vigil Service, Committal, or Reception following the Funeral. Musical selections are located at the end of this guide.


If you would like help in planning and assembling a funeral program, please speak to the funeral director.


The funeral rites conclude with the Rite of Committal, which is the final act of the community of faith in caring for the body of its deceased member. The Rite of Committal is an expression of the connection that exists between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven: the deceased passes with the farewell prayers of the community of believers into the welcoming company of those who already see God face to face. Generally, the Rite of Committal takes place at the grave.


Often family or friends wish to remember the person who has died by making a memorial contribution to Blessed Sacrament Church or Saint Margaret Church. Please speak to a parish staff person and let the funeral director know if you would like to have this information included in the newspaper announcement. All donors will receive acknowledgments.


Depending upon its availability, the church hall is sometimes used for a luncheon after the funeral. Other than tables, chairs, trash receptacles, and coffee urns, everything else must be provided by the family. Food items may be delivered ahead of time and placed in the refrigerators.


Visiting Catholic Clergy, provided they are in standing with the Church, are always welcome to participate in the Funeral Mass. However, it is the responsibility of the family members of the deceased to invite outside clergy. Parish clergy are assigned to funerals as their time permits.


Usually there is one person's name listed on the funeral planning sheet as the person in charge of funeral arrangements. Parish clergy will restrict their conversations to this person who will serve as a conduit to the rest of the family.


Generally speaking, outside musicians and singers are not permitted. The Music Director has the final say in all matters concerning music.


Two to three floral pieces usually adorn the altar during the Funeral Mass. The funeral director will see to their placement. These pieces should be removed after the Funeral Mass. During Advent and Lent, the flowers will be removed at the end of the Mass.


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