Catholic Funerals in the Parish of St Thomas Aquinas

catholic-funerals-cross.jpgCelebrating the life of someone close to us is a very important aspect of our honouring their memory. The Catholic Church offers very beautiful liturgies to farewell the dead and commend them to God – either through a Requiem Mass or a Funeral Service.

While our own funeral is not something that we would necessarily like to think about, we strongly recommend that you do take the time to plan key elements of your own funeral, and leave specific instructions for family and the parish priest. Planning funerals can be a stressful experience for the grieving family, and anything you can do to make it easier for them is to be encouraged. The things in particular that will be helpful are the Scripture readings you would like and the hymns. (It is not appropriate to specify the priest or deacon you would like to celebrate your funeral, as they may not be available on the day.)

catholic-funerals-incense.jpgThe Bereavement Support Group in the parish runs a workshop twice a year to help people prepare their own funeral. Contact the parish office to find out when the next course will be offered.

In general the following points need to be understood:

  1. It is better for the parish to be notified directly by the family, rather than by the funeral director (though this may not always be possible). The time and format of the funeral liturgy must be decided in consultation with the priest or deacon.
  2. It is assumed that you would prefer a Requiem Mass or Funeral Service in your church. It is also possible to have a service (not a Requiem Mass) in the crematorium chapel, funeral director’s chapel, or at the graveside.
  3. A funeral service on a marae is entirely appropriate. To ensure that a priest, deacon or katekita is available, early notification is required.
  4. You may also wish to have a Vigil Service the night before, in the home or in the church – either a rosary, or a less-structured service, including readings, hymns, prayers, a decade of the rosary, and some sharing. A priest or deacon might be present for this.
  5. The Hamilton Diocese stipulates that only one eulogy (tribute) may be given at a Requiem Mass. If you or your family wish to include a eulogy, it should take place before the Mass begins, and should be short (4-5 minutes), focused and therefore well-prepared. The person chosen should be someone who can do this well.
  6. If it is not your wish to have a Requiem Mass, you may prefer to have a simpler funeral liturgy (or service). This would include:
    • Hymns
    • Eulogy
    • Scripture Readings
    • Prayers of the Faithful
    • Final Commendation
  7. This service could still be led for you by a priest or deacon. While there is more latitude with such a service, it must still be prayerful and appropriate.
  8. Live music is always best. If you choose to have a song from a CD, it must be appropriate in a church setting.
  9. It is appropriate to give the celebrant a gratuity or koha. The funeral director is happy to arrange this for you.
  10. Finally, it must be remembered that the number of priests and deacons in Tauranga is small, and that there may not always be someone available, particularly at short notice.

A selection of Scripture readings suitable for a Funeral is available here, and a list of suitable hymns here. Neither list is exhaustive – there are many other readings and hymns that could be chosen.

A funeral planning sheet is also given.