Funeral liturgies are now planned through our new online form. Please complete that form if you are intent on having a funeral at Saint Patrick.
Saint Patrick is a Catholic church of the Roman Rite. The rituals surrounding Christian burial in the Catholic Church are ancient, solemn, and dignified. The primary purpose of Holy Mass is to give praise and glory to God. At a Funeral Mass, along with the countless other gifts we have received from the hand of God, we also give thanks for a loved-one’s journey of faith now completed. We honor the human remains of the deceased, which were once a temple of the Holy Spirit. A funeral in the Catholic tradition is a celebration of God’s generosity, love, and mercy to us and to our deceased loved one. A Catholic funeral offers the spiritual comfort of faith and hope to the mourners.
The Rite of Christian Burial is divided into three stations. These work together as a whole. The main component is the celebration of Holy Mass in the presence of the deceased. The presence of the physical body is the norm, but the presence of cremated remains may be necessary in some circumstances. A Funeral Mass or Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass can only be celebrated when the human remains of the deceased are present is some form.
In some circumstances, a Catholic Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass can be celebrated instead of a Funeral Mass. The Catholic Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass can take place in the church proper or in some other appropriate location. As with a Funeral Mass, the human remains of the deceased must be present at the Catholic Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass. Without the presence of human remains, there can be no funeral.
The Funeral Mass usually begins at the door of the church, where the mourners are welcomed and the casket is blessed with baptismal water. The casket is then covered with a white cloth (or pall) to remind us of the robe of Baptism. Items of particular devotion (a crucifix, bible, set of rosary beads, etc.) can be placed on the casket. The mourners follow the casket in solemn procession to the altar.
During the Funeral Mass, the Easter candle stands burning brightly near the casket. This reminds us of the presence of the Risen Christ among us as we grieve the loss of a friend and loved one.
The Funeral Mass follows the basic structure of all Masses. There is a Liturgy of the Word and a Liturgy of the Eucharist. There is an opportunity for family and friends to proclaim Bible passages and to lead the Prayer of the Faithful (some petitions of which can be composed for the occasion).
Between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist is the ceremonial presentation of the gifts of bread and wine. These two gifts may be presented by designated family or friends.
During the prayers of the Funeral Mass, the baptismal name of the deceased is frequently mentioned.
Incense may be used as a sign of purification and as a symbol of our prayers rising to heaven.
While all are welcome to actively participate in the celebration of a Funeral Mass, Holy Communion is only received by those who are actually in communion with God and with the Catholic Church.
If you are unfamiliar with the protocols of a Catholic Mass, (when to stand, kneel, or sit, for example), do not be concerned. Simply keep an eye on the undertaker seated in the front of the church. The funeral director’s task is to direct you.
Music is an essential part of worship. The same principles apply for music at a Funeral Mass as at all celebrations of Holy Mass. The lyrics and melody should be prayerful. All other types of music are inappropriate at Mass and are best used at some other place and time. Previously recorded music is unworthy of use at Holy Mass. Once your funeral home has scheduled a funeral, the church will proceed to contact the church musicians. The fee for the musicians is $300. The fee for the use of the church is $150. This church fee includes a $10 stipend for the priest celebrant. In cases of financial hardship, please contact the pastor of the church. Please note that funerals must be scheduled days in advance, because the parish schedule is unable to accommodate more than one funeral per day.
The Funeral Mass concludes with the Prayer of Commendation offered over the remains of the deceased and followed by a recession from the church.
The Funeral Mass normally lasts about forty-five minutes.
The two other components of the Rite of Christian Burial are the Vigil (which is prayed the night before the funeral) and the Prayers of Committal (which are offered at the place of interment).
The Vigil takes place the night before the Funeral Mass. It is an opportunity to gather, share stories of the deceased, remember good times, grieve, extend condolences, and pray. The Vigil prayers may be led by a priest, deacon, or layperson. If the capacity of the funeral parlor cannot comfortably accommodate the number of visitors expected, you are welcome to consider the use of the church building as a location for the Vigil. The use of the church for the Vigil is available without charge.
The third and final component of the Rite of Christian burial is held at the gravesite. Here, brief prayers are offered, the grave is blessed (if necessary), and the remains of the decease committed to the earth to await the resurrection of the dead when the Lord returns at the end of time.
Out of respect for the sacredness of all human remains, they are buried in a container in the ground. This applies even if the body has been cremated. On rare occasion, the cremated remains (held in an appropriate container) can be “buried at sea”. Cremains are never strewn, stored, recycled, or disposed of in some other fashion.
For those who wish, there are two appendices included here that provide various options from which the family may choose. Appendix #1 concerns the Bible readings and ritual elements available. Appendix #2 concerns liturgical music available for a Catholic Funeral. If you decide not to indicate preferences, the priest celebrant will make the choices for you.
After the Rite of Committal at the gravesite, family and friends are welcome to gather in the Great Hall on the first floor of the church. The use of the space should be scheduled in advance to avoid conflict with other groups. The room is provided by the church without cost.
There are also available Masses in memory of one deceased person. A Memorial Mass can be arranged separately from regularly-scheduled parish Masses. These are not Funeral Masses, however, and do not provide the rich options available in a Funeral Mass. A Memorial Mass might be appropriate on a significant anniversary of death or upon receiving news of death.
Lastly, a word on “eulogies”. A “eulogy” is a laudatory speech highly praising someone who has died. The purpose of the homily at the Funeral Mass is to ponder the sacred mysteries of Christian life and death. At Funeral Masses, there is usually a short homily, but to the exclusion of funeral eulogies of any kind. Eulogies, poems, meditations, etc., can be held in the funeral parlor, at the cemetery, or even at the collation following the funeral. If need be, you can give eulogies in the Church itself before Mass begins. Mass will begin, however, at the time you have scheduled. Please alert the undertakers if you need to arrive in the church earlier in order to give sufficient time for a eulogy before Mass begins.
Revised 22 April 2016