Information on Funeral Planning

All Baptized Catholics are entitled to the Ecclesiastical Funeral Rites of the Catholic Church, whether or not they actively practiced the faith, unless they have publicly renounced the Catholic faith.

The Church provides the ministry of comfort and consolation through the various funeral rites as she prays for the deceased and offers support to their living family members.

This guide is given to assist families in what might be the appropriate form of the funeral rite for their loved one.

The first offering is the Mass of Christian Burial with the body present in church. If the deceased was a regular participant in Eucharistic worship and members of the family are regular practicing Catholics and are familiar with the prayers and responses, then this option will be familiar and comfortable to the family. It is presumed that after the funeral Mass the body will be taken directly to the cemetery for interment. If the body is to be cremated, it is preferred that this be done after the Mass of Christian Burial with the ashes interred later in consecrated ground.

The second offering is the Mass of Christian Burial in church with the cremated remains present. The entrance procession is omitted and the remains are set on a table near the altar with the lit paschal candle present. The Mass continues the same as a regular Mass. Out of our deep belief in the Resurrection of the body and respect for the cremated remains which are blessed during the Mass, it is expected that after the Mass, the urn with cremated remains is taken directly to the cemetery for interment in consecrated ground or in a wall niche. The scattering of ashes, dividing them among family members or leaving them on a mantle until the next family member passes away is prohibited. Please keep this in mind when making your choices.

The third offering is the Liturgy of Christian Burial Outside of Mass. This option may be celebrated by a deacon or priest. It consists of a prayer service, with music, prayers, and final commendation. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is not part of this option, and Holy Communion may be omitted.

This service may be comfortable when the deceased Catholic may not have made a preference about religious burial, not requested a funeral Mass, nor had been practicing the faith. It may also be a more appropriate option if the family members and friends of the deceased are not familiar with the prayers and responses of the Mass or are not in a position to receive Holy Communion or do not practice the faith. In this option either the body, or cremated remains are present. It is also presumed that after the service, the final commendation for the deceased is immediately done at the cemetery. The Catholic Church does not allow open Holy Communion to non-Catholics. So those who attend who are not Catholic would not be able to receive. To avoid an uncomfortable situation, the Liturgy of the Word may be more appropriate.

A fourth offering is for a funeral service to be conducted in the funeral home with the priest or deacon present offering a prayer service for the deceased in the presence of the body or cremated remains. The priest or deacon will accompany the deceased to the cemetery and offer the final prayers of commendation. There may be special circumstances that make coming to the church, not possible. The church wants to accommodate these circumstances as best as possible.

Eulogy: A brief eulogy of 3-5 minutes is permitted to be delivered before the service begins by ONE family member or friend, remembering the deceased and offering appreciation to those attending the service. The eulogy is NOT the service and thus precedes it.

An approved written eulogy is to be submitted to the funeral coordinator to be reviewed by the priest no less than 24 hours prior to the service. The eulogy must use appropriate language and avoid off-color humor that detracts from the dignity of being in church in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. It is strongly advised if a family chooses not to abide by this policy that it is more appropriate to deliver the eulogy in the funeral home during the visitation or at the reception after the funeral where others can share their thoughts also.

Visitations: Due to the limitations of our church environment and scheduling we are unable to provide visitations in the church on the evening before or the day of the funeral. Asking for an exception leads to an uncomfortable situation at a difficult time.

St. Ann Parish wishes to support families of the deceased during this difficult time and to commemorate with reverence the life and dedication of one of our parishioners. This should be done with dignity, following the official funeral ritual of the Catholic Church. We regret that we cannot customize rituals for each person or provide non-religious services within the church.

Our Funeral Coordinator will assist you in the selection of appropriate scripture readings and Liturgical music suitable for funerals.  Links are provided here for New  Testament readings and Old Testament readings.  We regret that non-Biblical readings nor secular music can be used in the funeral liturgy. 

The first step when a loved one passes away, is to contact the Funeral Director.  They in turn will notify the church to begin the planning process.  Soon after that is done, the Parish Funeral Coordinator will contact the family member responsible for the funeral arrangements.  We ask that you download, print and fill in the Funeral Liturgy Planning Sheet.

We appreciate the opportunity to serve your loved one with dignity and respect and to work with your family to have beautiful worship for your loved one.

The Guidelines for Funeral Liturgy Serives can be downloaded HERE. Copies are also available at the Rectory.

Music for the Funeral Liturgy

  • “Music is integral to the funeral rites. It allows the faith community to express convictions and feelings that words alone may fail to convey. It has the power to console and uplift the mourners and to strengthen the unity of the assembly in faith and love” (OCF. 30).
  • In some pastoral settings, there has been an increasing confusion about the appropriate types of music for funerals
  • Non-Liturgical or secular music is forbidden before or during the funeral rites, particularly in the church.
  • The celebrant, in collaboration with the parish’s Director of Music/Liturgy, is to approve and authorize the use of proper liturgical music for all the funeral rites.
  • The Order of Christan Funerals recognizes the need to reflect on the life of the loved one who has just died by providing an invitation in the Vigil for the Deceased to a member or friend of the family to speak in remembrance of the deceased person at the visitation in the funeral home. The same invitation may be offered before the Opening Prayer of the Funeral Mass.
  • Words of remembrance are optional. If said in the church, eulogy must be brief (3-5 min.) and employ appropriate language in the church. Off color remarks are NOT permitted.

Diocese of Wilmington Guide for Funerals

In the Diocese of Wilmington the following norms are to be observed:

1.      It is recommended that the Vigil (Wake) is the most appropriate time for members of the family and friends to share memories of the deceased or to pay tribute to the deceased through vocal remembrances, photographs, favorite songs, etc.

2.      The reception after the burial is another appropriate time for the remembrances because there is less of an emotional burden and the contest is looking toward the future in a more positive manner.

3.      If a family member wishes to express appreciation or say something in remembrance at the Mass, the following are to be observed:

                           i.          Only ONE family member or friend is to speak.

                         ii.          The words to be shared must be in writing and approved in advance by the celebrant.

                       iii.          Because of the intensity of emotions at the time of a funeral, the person who will speak is to be brief, that is, no more than five minutes.

                        iv.          This faith-remembrance is to take place prior to the Collect (opening prayer) or after the Prayer after Communion.

                         v.          Because this is not part of the Liturgy of the Word, this remembrance is not to take place at the Ambo, but at another appropriate place of the celebrant’s choosing.