Catholic Funeral Rites

 “The Church… ministers to the sorrowing and consoles them in the funeral rites with the comforting Word of God and Sacrament of Eucharist,” (Order of Christian Funerals, no.4).

We know losing a loved one is not easy. Catholic Funeral Rites can help you find peace and healing throughout this journey.

Three separate rites comprise our Catholic Funeral Rites: The Vigil, The Liturgy, and The Committal. Each rite serves a distinct purpose to assist you on the path to healing. Each rite can be personalized to a degree to impart a deeper meaning relevant to the life of the deceased and to those who mourn. We celebrate the rites to give worship and praise to God for giving us the gift of life.

The sequence of the Vigil is:

  • Introductory Rites
  • Liturgy of the Word (including a brief homily on the readings)
  • Prayer of Intercession
  • The Lord’s Prayer
  • Concluding Prayer
  • Time for family and friends to speak in remembrance of the deceased
  • Concluding Rite

Funeral Liturgy/Mass

“The funeral liturgy is the central liturgical celebration of the Christian community for the deceased,” (Order of Christian Funerals, no. 128).  The community gathers with family and friends to praise God for Christ’s victory over sin and death. Through Baptism, we share in Christ’s death and resurrection. Through the Holy Spirit, we join in faith.

The sequence of the Funeral Mass is:

  • Reception (of the body or cremated remains) at the church
    • The Rite of Reception takes place at the beginning of the liturgy, usually at the entrance of the church. The family and those accompanying the deceased are greeted and the coffin or urn is sprinkled with holy water. The ministers, family and remains are processed toward the altar.
  • Liturgy of the Word
    • “The readings proclaim 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,” (Order of Christian Funerals, no. 137). There is an extensive collection of Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Songs from which the family may choose for a meaningful edification.
  • Liturgy of the Eucharist
    • “The Liturgy of the Eucharist takes place in the usual manner.  Members of the family or friends should bring the gifts to the altar,” (Order of Christian Funerals, no. 144).
  • Final Commendation and Farewell
    • “The final commendation is a final farewell by the members of the community, an act of respect for one of their members, whom they entrust to the tender and merciful embrace of God; an affirmation that the community, the deceased, baptized into one Body, share the same destiny, resurrection on the last day,” (Order of Christian Funerals, no. 146).
  • Procession to the Place of Committal
    • “At the conclusion of the Funeral Mass, the procession is formed and the body/cremated remains is accompanied to the place of committal; a mirror of the journey of human life as a pilgrimage to God’s kingdom of peace and light,” (Order of Christian Funerals, no. 148).

“When circumstances do not permit the celebration of the Funeral Mass before the committal or when the pastor and family judge that a liturgy outside Mass is more suitable, the family and community may celebrate Funeral Liturgy Outside Mass. This liturgy is ordinarily celebrated in church, but may also be celebrated in the home of the deceased, a funeral home, parlor, chapel of rest or cemetery chapel,” (Order of Christian Funerals, no. 178 and 179).


Rite of Committal (Burial or Interment)

The Rite of Committal is the conclusion of the funeral rites, marking the final act of the community caring for the body of the deceased. The community commits the body to its resting place in hopes the deceased awaits the glory of the resurrection and is an expression of the communion that exists between the Church on earth and Church in heaven.

It is normally celebrated beside the open burial space and presided by a priest or deacon. A particular prayer is recited if the place of burial is to be blessed. The body will be placed in the burial space, as the community expresses their farewell prayers.

Please do not go through this tough time alone. Contact your pastor, bereavement ministers, or parish staff so they may support you in making necessary arrangements.