FUNERAL CELEBRATIONS

In death, life is changed, not ended.

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When a Loved One Dies

The death of a loved one is one of the most painful and traumatic experiences of our lives. Our world is turned upside down.  We are plunged into sadness and grief, and yet there are so many arrangements to be made, so many things to do.  It can be hard to know where to start.

As a parish community we wish to offer you whatever support and comfort we can in your time of loss.  Our Parish Funeral Ministry Team and our clergy are available to help you prepare your loved one’s funeral.  We appreciate that, for many families, it may be many years since there was a death in the immediate family and people may not be aware of the various choices they have, about how they may wish to celebrate the Funeral and how they can participate in same.  Our Funeral Ministry Team are there to support you in preparing your loved one’s Funeral and represent our parish community by being part of our prayer in the Home / Funeral Home and when your loved one is received into the Church.  Please feel free to ask the priest or the members of the Funeral Team any questions you may have in relation to the Funeral Prayers.

The following guide seeks to offer some practical advice and resources to help you when a loved one dies.

Planning your Loved One’s Funeral Liturgy

Whilst the Funeral Mass marks the death of our loved one, it is meant to be a celebration of their life.  We thank God for the blessing of their life and the myriad ways in which their life has been a blessing in ours.  We entrust them in faith to the Lord, confident that God always remembers the good we have done in life and that the seeds of goodness we have sown in life will now blossom in the presence of God. We ask the Lord to support you in your loss and we seek strength in the promise of life that God holds before us. 

There are many ways in which you can personalise the celebration of your loved one’s Funeral, so that it reflects their life and their personality.  In planning the funeral celebration you may wish to consider the following:

Eulogy / Words of Tribute

A family member may wish to speak to the congregation to share something of the life of the deceased: their interests, their passions, their achievements.  The aim is not to give a complete biography but to give those who have gathered a sense of their life and personality – a unique and irreplaceable gift from God.  We encourage families who wish to share a short eulogy to do so at the beginning of our Funeral Mass so that we can then bring the life that has been remembered to our prayer.

However there is no expectation that a family member will offer a eulogy.  It can be incredibly difficult and emotional to speak publicly of a loved one when you are in the throes of grief and families may prefer to choose not to.  If there are particular aspects of their loved one’s life that they would like remembered in the Mass please mention these to the priest.

Presentation of Symbols / Personal Memorabilia

If the family wishes to offer symbols of the person’s life  then these can be brought to the altar immediately after the eulogy or opening hymn.  A family member may wish to explain the significance of the symbols or explain their significance beforehand to the priest.  The gifts will be placed on a table beside the coffin.  We ask families to choose gifts and symbols that respect the fact that we are gathered in Church for prayer. 

Liturgy of the Word: Choosing the readings for the Funeral Mass

Families may choose to have one or two readings before the Gospel.  If you wish to have a single reading this can be chosen from either the Old Testament or the New Testament, and it is read before the Responsorial Psalm.   If you choose to have two readings, an Old Testament reading is read first, before the Responsorial Psalm, and a New Testament Reading is read after the psalm.

Please click on the links below for a selection of suitable readings, but you are free to choose other passages from the Bible if you so choose.

The Responsorial Psalm is often sung by the singer/choir so you may want to discuss this with them when you are choosing music for the Funeral Mass.
The Gospel reading is normally chosen by the priest who will be celebrating the Funeral Mass.  However, families are welcome to recommend a particular Gospel if they so choose.

Prayer of the Faithful / General Intercessions

Families are welcome to choose or compose the general intercessions for the Prayer of the Faithful, which come after the homily. In these prayers we pray not only for the deceased and his or her family, but for all the dead and those who mourn them, as well as for the needs of the wider community.  Families may wish to pray for those who have cared for the deceased and/or for any other intention that was close to their loved one’s heart.  A selection of sample intercessions is available below.  These can be changed or adapted to your own needs and circumstances or you may wish to compose your own. 

Presentation of the Offertory Gifts

Family members and/or friends are welcome to bring the gifts of the Bread and Wine to the altar.  This is done after the Prayer of the Faithful / Intercessions and is separate to the presentation of symbols that takes place at the beginning of Mass.

Distribution of Holy Communion

If a member of the extended family or a friend of the deceased is a Minister of the Eucharist and wishes to help with the distribution of Holy Communion, they are very welcome.  If so, please let the priest know in advance.

 

Music and Hymns.

Music and hymns are an important part of our prayer and greatly enhance the Funeral celebration, creating an atmosphere of hope and prayerful remembrance.  Please discuss with the choir / singer the hymns that you would like to be part of the Mass.   Given that the Funeral Mass is a solemn and sacred liturgy, secular songs or music are not deemed appropriate during the Mass.  However, if the family have a particular favourite song or music of the deceased that is appropriate and that they would like to include, this can be played or sung after the Prayers of Commendation as the coffin is being carried from the Church.

Service Guide

We ask families to complete the Service Guide below and to give it to the priest in advance of the Funeral Mass.  It lists the names of the various people who will participate in the Mass and allows for them to be invited forward by name.  This helps to make the celebration more personal and makes it easier for those who will participate in the various moments of our liturgy.

Hymn of Hope
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In the bulb there is a flower;

in the seed, an apple tree;

in cocoons, a hidden promise:

butterflies will soon be free!

In the cold and snow of winter

there's a spring that waits to be,

unrevealed until its season,

something God alone can see.

 

There's a song in every silence,

seeking word and melody;

there's a dawn in every darkness

bringing hope to you and me.

From the past will come the future;

what it holds, a mystery,

unrevealed until its season,

something God alone can see.

 

In our end is our beginning;

in our time, infinity;

in our doubt there is believing;

in our life, eternity.

In our death, a resurrection;

at the last, a victory,

unrevealed until its season,

something God alone can see.

 

© Natalie Sleeth, 1986, Hope Publishing Company

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