In the face of death, the Church confidently proclaims that God has created each person for eternal life and that Jesus, the Son of God, by his death and resurrection has broken the chains of sin and death that bound humanity. Christ “achieved his task of redeeming humanity and giving perfect glory to God, principally by the paschal mystery of his blessed passion, resurrection from the dead and glorious ascension.
– Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy
Saint Catherine Labouré Parish is privileged and honored to assist the families of the deceased as they prepare a meaningful and fitting Funeral Mass for their loved ones. Upon the death of a loved one the funeral director will be in touch with the parish and together with the family decide on an appropriate time for the Funeral Mass and burial.
Family Participation in the Funeral Liturgy
Funerals at Saint Catherine Labouré Church, the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal, are planned and celebrated so that the family members of the deceased have the opportunity to feel the consoling and healing presence of God in their lives. We are celebrating that life for the deceased has changed, not ended.
Family members and their friends are encouraged to actively participate in this new phase of their loved one’s journey. Prior to the funeral, families are invited to attend a meeting with the priest who will celebrate the Funeral Mass, the Parish Bereavement Coordinator, and the Director of Music. During this time of prayer and remembrance the family is encouraged to help choose appropriate scripture readings and sacred music for the Liturgy; and if desired, select family members or friends who may wish to take an active role in the Liturgy as a reader and/or by bringing the bread and wine to the altar. Family members may also place the funeral pall (white cloth) on the casket prior to entering the church.
Viewings and Visitation
If a family decides that they wish to have a viewing or visitation at the church prior to the Funeral Mass, a place is set aside in Our Lady’s Oratory. This chapel located off the narthex of the Church provides a dignified and private for families to receive friends and relatives and be with their loved one before the Funeral Mass.
The Liturgy of the Word
The Liturgy of the Word is one of the principal parts of the Funeral Mass. It includes one or two Scripture texts in addition to a sung Responsorial Psalm, a sung Gospel acclamation, and the Gospel itself. Only selections from Sacred Scripture may be used. There are several Scripture reading options for the Funeral Mass. The bereavement team will assist the family in selecting those that are most appropriate. It is expected that the readings will be proclaimed directly from the Lectionary for the Mass. The Liturgy of the Word also includes the Universal Prayer (the General Intercessions/Petitions). There are options to select for this as well.
The music at a Funeral Mass is chosen to bring solace and consolation to those who mourn the loss of a loved one, and to reflect our Catholic belief in the Resurrection of the Dead through the grace of Baptism. Therefore, music that is selected must fulfill this purpose and be appropriate to the liturgical action taking place. The music minister will guide the family in choosing appropriate hymns during the planning meeting. Music of a secular nature is not appropriate for the Mass. Such music would be appropriate (even played electronically) during the visitation at the Funeral Home or during a post-funeral luncheon. Occasionally, a member or friend of the family wishes to sing or play a musical instrument at the Funeral Mass. The Director of Music will coordinate this participation with them.
Saint Catherine Labouré Church will provide printed programs/worship aids that contain the Order of the Mass, reading citations, the responses, and hymn lyrics to assist the families and attendees in actively participating in the Mass.
Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and that our sharing in the Eucharist is the sign of our oneness and unity in the Catholic Church. At a Funeral Mass, there may be a number of non-Catholics or Catholics who no longer practice their faith. While they may not receive the Blessed Sacrament, they are invited to join us in prayer and song as those Catholics prepared to receive Holy Communion approach the altar. This direction is always printed in the funeral program. At his own discretion, the priest celebrant may also wish to make a verbal announcement about the guidelines for the reception of Holy Communion. This is not to be insensitive or exclusive, but to be sure that there is no confusion among those who attend.
Cremation and the Funeral Rites
While the Church continues to hold a preference for corporeal burial, cremation has become part of Catholic practice in the United States and the around the world. The Church’s reverence and care for the body grows out of a reverence and concern for the person whom the Church now commends to the care of God. This is the body once washed in baptism, anointed with the oil of salvation, and fed with the bread of life. There are specific Church laws regarding cremation that must be observed. Please refer to the pamphlet Reflections on the Body, Cremation, and Catholic Funeral Rites for these particular guidelines.
Words of Remembrance
Occasionally a member of the family will request the opportunity to offer Words of Remembrance on behalf of the deceased. Our parish strongly recommends that Words of Remembrance are most appropriately and effectively delivered at the time of the Vigil Service or at the post-funeral luncheon. Remembrances offered at this time allow a more casual reflection of their loved one.
If the family decides to have the Words of Remembrance shared at the Funeral Mass, they are offered following the Prayer After Communion and Before the Final Commendation and Farewell. The following guidelines are to be followed:
▪ Only one speaker be chosen to speak on behalf of the family. The family may wish to consult with him/her before the Mass to be sure that their thoughts are represented.
▪ The speaker should begin by introducing him/herself and give his/her name and relationship to the deceased.
▪ The text should focus on the way the deceased was faithful to his/her Baptismal call to love God and love their neighbors.
▪ The speaker’s remarks should be no more that five minutes.
▪ Speaking extemporaneously during such an emotional time is
difficult. Therefore, we request that the remembrance must be no more than two standard typed, double-spaced pages.
▪ The Words of Remembrance should not attempt to detail life accomplishments or give a complete biography of the deceased. As is the case with the entire Funeral Liturgy, it is a time to emphasize Faith.
▪ The speaker must remember that he/she is in a sacred space and speaking during a sacred time. Therefore, the language used and images chosen for the Words of Remembrance must be appropriate for the house of God.
▪ It is most important that the above guidelines be followed to maintain the dignity and reverence for the sacred liturgy, as well as respect for the one whose funeral mass is being celebrated.
Leo Hall, when available, may be used for post-funeral luncheons. This facility is located in the lower level of the Parish Office Center and is accessed by a ramp. It can seat as many as 100 people. Arimathean luncheon services are available when the deceased was a registered member of the parish. Arrangements are made through the Parish Bereavement Coordinator, Mr. Robert Gioffre.
The Arimatheans are a group of parishioners who represent the parish community at the Funeral Mass and often at the Vigil. They are a sign to the families that their loved ones will be remembered and kept in prayer. The Arimatheans also assist in preparing and serving the post-funeral luncheon for deceased parishioners.
Within a few weeks of the funeral, the Parish Bereavement Coordinator will be in touch with the family to see how they are doing and offer additional assistance if needed. The parish has media resources and materials available for families to help them during their time of grief. The parish clergy and staff are always available to offer pastoral care and spiritual support.
Collaboration with the Funeral Home
There are many arrangements to be made and details to be handled following the death of a loved one and in preparation for the funeral rites. Some of these elements are handled by a licensed funeral director and some are handled by the parish staff. Saint Catherine Laboure Parish sees our ministry and work a true collaboration with the funeral home staff to ensure the best pastoral and profession care is provided.