Catholic Church Kilsyth

The Bereavement Group - Structure of a Catholic Funeral

Structure of a Catholic Funeral - Choosing Hymns for a funeral - Choosing Readings for a funeral - Rosary and Prayers for use at home
Blessing of the Graves - November month of the Holy Souls - Who are we - How to Join the Bareavement Team - Bereavement Team Rota.

Types of Funeral Service

There are different types of funeral service. The most common service in the Catholic Church is a Funeral Mass, but there may be circumstances when this is not the best way of celebrating the funeral.

Types of Funeral Service:

Funeral Mass in the Church
Funeral Service in the Church without Mass
Funeral Service at the Funeral Parlour
Funeral Service at the Crematorium

The Parish Priest or one of the Bereavement Group will discuss with you what you think will be the best form of service for you and your family. Perhaps you would want to take into consideration whether the deceased was a committed Catholic, whether the rest of the family are Catholic or whether many of the family go to Mass regularly. You may wish to consider factors such as whether the congregation will be familiar with taking part in the Mass.

Receiption of the Remains of the Deceased into the Church

Traditionally the remains of the Deceased are received into the Church on the evening before the funeral. This service is normally conducted by a Priest who is assisted by one of the Bereavement Group. However there are occasions when a Priest is not available and the service is then led by a member of the Bereavement Group. If the family prefer they may decide to have the remains of the deceased received into the Church at the beginning of the Funeral Mass or Funeral Service.

Sermon and Eulogy

It is useful to supply some biographical details about the deceased to the Priest. Even if the Priest has known the deceased, it is likely that he will not know about the whole of the life of the person in the same way that only their family does and so to help with the sermon it is useful to discuss aspects of the deceased's life.

Sometimes a friend or family member gives a few minutes appreciation of the deceased at the end of Mass. Please see the Priest about this beforehand as usually there is limited time available in order to meet the needs of the Cemetery or Crematorium timetable.

Readers, Soloists, Pallbearers, Cords and Offertory Procession.

Participation by family and friends in the funeral service increases the power of our prayers for the repose of the soul of the deceased and is a profound mark of respect. It is therefore fitting that at the time of bereavement and loss the Church encourages us to take an active part in not only the prayers that we can offer but in the ceremony itself.

Readers: One act of participation is to read for the congregation the during the Liturgy of the Word. Traditionally upto 2 readers can read the First Reading, the Psalm (if not sung), The Second Reading and the Gospel Acclamation. When choosing readers from amongst family and friends you should consider whether they have read in public before or whether the emotion of the occasion will be too overwhelming. See here for notes on how to prepare for reading in church.

Offertory Procession: Usually 2 but as many as 4 family members can take part in the Procession of Gifts of bread and wine which are brought to the altar in solemn procession. It is an act of participation which can be done by either family or friends and it is always nice to see younger family members take part.

Soloists: From time to time some families have members who wish to take part by offering their talent as a soloist. So long as the music chosen is sacred music and has been discussed with the Priest in advance then a soloist can be used during the reflection after holy communion. See Choosing Hymns for a funeral for more guidance on music liturgy for funerals.

Pallbearers: Social tradition has it that family and friends can show their respect for the deceased by acting as Pallbearers to carry the coffin into and out of the Church or at the graveyard. This intimate act of offering your physical strength to support the deceased on their final journey is an act of deep respect. In times past only male family or friends took part in bearing the coffin, however in recent times femail family and friends are begining to take part more often in this act of the deceased's final journey.

Male or femail, it is however a physically demanding act and consideration should be given to those who are fit and able enough. Consideration should also be given to appropriate footware for church and graveyard surfaces in order to keep everyone involved, safe. Your Undertaker will assist with safely raising and lowering of the coffin and loading and unloading from the hearse.

Cords: when the funeral involves a burial in a cemetery, social tradion gives the opportunity to share in the act of interment by helping to lower the coffin into the grave by using ropes and cords. The cemetery staff take the weight of the coffin on ropes and the cords, of which there are usually 8, are normally each held by a person chosen by the family. This act is less physically demanding than being a pallbearer and often gives family members who were not able the carry the coffin, an opportunity to participate. Consideration should be given in advance to who the cord holders should be and this should be clearly communicated to each person well in advance of assembly in the graveyard.

Cards with cord numbers, usually 1 - 8 are available from your Undertaker so that each cord holder knows when to move forward to assist. Remember never to wrap a cord around your hand or fingers - it should be allowed to run freely accross the palm of the hand.

Sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion

Non Catholics and Catholics who are not able to come to Communion or who have not been to Mass for a while (or who have not been to Confession) are welcome to come forward for a blessing. In order to receive a blessing your right arm should be placed across your chest pointing towards your left shoulder to indicate to the Priest that you are requesting a blessing rather than Holy Communion.

Before the funeral service if there are any family members who wish to attend Confession then this can be arranged by discussion with the Priest.


God BlessYou!