Who Needs to Know About the Plans I Am Making?
The first phone call you make after connecting with your family should be to the funeral home where arrangements have been made, then call the parish and ask to speak to the Pastor. If no arrangements have been made, then simply call the Pastor.
The funeral home generally takes care of all the practical matters, which the parish will help you plan the liturgy/funeral. If at all possible, the Pastor and the Director of Music try to sit down with members of the family to learn how this moment can be most meaningful. During that discussion, we hope to hear more about the life of the deceased, help you determine readings and music and answer any questions you may have.
Prior to this meeting, it is helpful for you to look at the other pages on this site concerning funerals so as to get an idea of what readings and music you prefer. You may also print and complete the attached PLANNING YOUR FUNERAL FORM in advance if you feel you are able.
There are generally three parts to a Roman Catholic funeral:
- Vigil or Wake
- Funeral liturgy in the form of Mass (Eucharistic Liturgy) or Liturgy of the Word
- Committal of the body into the ground or a crypt
What happens during the Vigil or Wake?
At the Vigil, family and friends come together, most often in the presence of the body, in a space large enough for visitors to greet one another.
During this time a lay minister will lead a brief prayer service with scripture readings, intercessions, possibly hymns or other music and the opportunity for reflecting on the life of the deceased in the form of a eulogy.
Family and friends are often invited to participate by sharing stories of the deceased or to continue the story telling after the prayer service is concluded.
What is a funeral Mass like?
The funeral Mass follows the same pattern as a typical Mass with a few additional elements that reflect the deceased’s belief in the resurrection. Specifically, some of these elements are:
Covering the casket with a pall or white cloth which signifies the deceased life in Christ through baptism. This is often done by family members;
Sprinkling the casket with holy water, also a remembrance of baptism;
Placing Christian symbols on the covered casket. Usually, this is a cross.
Is there music at a funeral Mass?
Yes. Special hymns are chosen to be part of the funeral Mass. It is important that these hymns reflect the Christian beliefs about death and the resurrection, and for that reason are sacred in nature. At St. Basil’s, the Director of Music will often speak with members of the family prior to the funeral so as to find music that represents the life of the deceased as well as the traditions of the Church. Possible selections can also be viewed on the FUNERAL MUSIC page.
What else happens at a funeral Mass?
A) Special readings from sacred scripture are proclaimed. Typically, there are one or two readings taken from both or either the Old and New Testament (Hebrew and Christian scriptures,) a psalm (usually sung and also taken from the scriptures) and a Gospel reading. You can make selections on our FUNERAL READINGS page.
Who may proclaim the readings?
A baptized Christian usually proclaims the first and second reading. A cantor usually proclaims the psalm and an ordained minister (priest or deacon) proclaims the Gospel.
Because the purpose of reading from scripture is to provide comfort to mourners as well as speak of Christ’s own life and death, it is important that the person who proclaims the scriptures be comfortable speaking in public at a microphone and also able to maintain their composure. Otherwise, God’s words may go unheard.
B) The Prayers of the Faithful or Universal Prayer are a series of intercessions taken from the Order of Christian Funerals or composed by a parish minister or the family. Ideally, these will also provide comfort to mourners by referring back to the contributions made by the deceased (e.g. “Mary was a person who reached out to others. For all those who were touched by her generosity and those who remain in need, we pray. Lord hear our prayer”) These prayers may also include a remembrance of other deceased family members or close friends. Examples can be found on the FUNERAL INTERCESSIONS page
C) The homily or sermon, offered by a priest connects the life of the deceased with Christ’s life and offers words of comfort and hope to mourners. Many people ask about the ability for family members to offer a few words. While this does not happen during the homily, you are encouraged to speak with the Pastor about the most appropriate time for this to take place. You can also read more about Eulogy options on the EULOGY page.
D) If the funeral includes a Mass, Holy Communion, the Body and Blood of Christ is offered to those who are present. People who normally receive Holy Communion in their parish Catholic church are welcome to receive. Non‐ Catholics and people who have been away from the practice of the Roman Catholic faith are encouraged to spiritually unite with those who are receiving by requesting a blessing rather than receiving communion.
May anyone beside the priest speak of the deceased during the funeral Mass?
Please see the comments on the EULOGY page.
When would one choose a Liturgy of the Word rather than a Mass?
Circumstances that would make this a necessary or preferable option are when the majority of the mourners are not Roman Catholic or have not actively practiced the Roman Catholic faith in a very long time and would feel uncomfortable in an unfamiliar ritual. In this circumstance, however, consideration is also rightly given to the life of the person who died and what might most accurately reflect and respect their faith life and relationship with the Roman Catholic Church.
This is a very brief service consisting of prayers and a short reading from the scriptures. A brief reflection might be offered by the priest, lay minister or family spokesperson, especially if some time has passed since the funeral Mass or Word service (as with spring interment after a winter death.)
What does it cost to have a funeral at St. Basil’s?
We do not charge for funerals; however, donations are appreciated. Typical donations range between $300 and $500 and would be made through the funeral home or directly to the parish. This does not cover the musicians’ fees, which depend on the number of musicians you choose. This conversation usually occurs with the Director of Music.
Some parishioners decide to make a contribution through other means, such as estates or securities. To learn more about these options, you can view our DONATIONS page.