St. Anne Catholic Church Funeral Guidelines (Published January 17, 2023)
Scheduling a Funeral Mass
Funeral Masses shall be celebrated in the church during the morning of any day of the week except Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation.
Funeral Visitations in the church are permitted upon request and the pastor's permission.
Prayer Vigils for the Deceased
“The vigil for the deceased is the principal rite celebrated by the Christian community in the time following death and before the funeral liturgy” (Order of Christian Funerals, n. 54 [Hereafter, OCF]). The family of the deceased may request a Catholic deacon or priest to lead this prayer vigil at the Funeral Home or at the church.
Flowers and Decorations
With the exception of the season of Lent, modest flower arrangements purchased by the family of the deceased may be placed in the church next to or in front of the altar in honor of the deceased (cf. OCF, n. 38; Ceremonial of Bishops, n. 236). Any and all photos/pictures of the deceased that are brought to the church shall be used in the narthex/vestibule only. “A cross may be placed on the coffin as a reminder that the Christian is marked by the cross in baptism and through Jesus’ suffering on the cross is brought to the victory of his resurrection” (OCF, n. 38).
Pall Bearers and Altar Servers
Pall bearers shall be chosen from among the family members and/or friends of the deceased. The names of the pall bearers shall be communicated to the Funeral Home prior to the Funeral Mass. Altar servers shall be selected from among the parish’s altar servers or from among the family members or friends of the deceased who have been duly trained and are experienced in altar serving. Groups of two or more altar servers shall consist of either all males or all females.
Liturgical Music and Music Ministers
Musicians shall ordinarily be selected from among the parish’s music ministers. If hymns are sung during Mass, the following shall also ordinarily be sung: Responsorial Psalm, Gospel Acclamation, Sanctus (“Holy, Holy, Holy” etc.), Memorial Acclamation, Great Amen, Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God” etc.), and Song of Commendation (while the casket or cremated remains are incensed). In accord with the Diocese of Rockford Catholic Funeral Guidelines (2002): “Non-liturgical or secular music is forbidden before or during the funeral rites, particularly in the Church.” Hymns sung during the Funeral Mass shall be selected from those approved hymns listed on the parish website (see above). Approved hymns may be selected for the Entrance Procession, Offertory (Presentation of the Gifts), Distribution of Holy Communion, and Recessional (at the conclusion of the Mass).
Liturgy of the Word and Readers
Like a Sunday Mass, the Liturgy of the Word at a Funeral Mass consists of a First Reading, Responsorial Psalm, Second Reading, Gospel Acclamation, Gospel Reading, Homily, and Prayers of the Faithful. In the Order of Christian Funerals, the Roman Catholic Church offers a very generous selection of approved scriptural readings for the Liturgy of the Word at the Funeral Mass. From this selection shall be chosen the following: First Reading, Responsorial Psalm, Second Reading, Gospel Acclamation, and Gospel Reading. All of these approved selections can be found on the parish website (see above). Each reading (First Reading and Second Reading) is to be proclaimed by only one reader. If an assisting deacon is not present, the Prayers of the Faithful are to be led by only one reader. If the Responsorial Psalm cannot be sung, it is also to be proclaimed by only one reader. While readers may be selected from among the family members or friends of the deceased, it is recommended that the readers not be from the deceased’s immediate family members, as this likely would involve asking them to assume a role “that their grief or sense of loss may make too burdensome” (OCF, n. 15). As each reader both approaches the ambo and returns to his/her pew after the reading, the reader shall make a profound bow to the tabernacle in reverence to the Blessed Sacrament. The Gospel reading is always proclaimed by a priest celebrant or deacon assisting at the Funeral Mass.
Funeral Homily and Eulogies
The Order of Christian Funerals states: “A brief homily based on the readings is always given after the gospel reading at the funeral” Mass, “but there is never to be a euology” (OCF, n. 27). This guideline of the Roman Catholic Church is reiterated in the Diocese of Rockford Catholic Funeral Guidelines (2002) which state that “a eulogy is not permitted” during the celebration of the Funeral Mass. This guideline respects the sacred and solemn character of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. At the Funeral Home Visitation or the Reception (Luncheon) after the burial are appropriate times for family members and/or friends to share memories of the deceased or to pay tribute to the deceased through vocal remembrances, photographs, songs, etc.
Offertory (Presentation of the Gifts)
Family members and/or friends of the deceased shall present the unconsecrated bread and wine to the priest celebrant at the time of the Offertory (Presentation of the Gifts).
Reception of Holy Communion
Those practicing Catholics who are not conscious of grave sin and who have observed the one hour fast from food and drink (not including water and/or medicine) prior to the time of Holy Communion may present themselves for the reception of Holy Communion during the Funeral Mass. All others are welcome at that time to remain in their pews or (at the invitation of the priest celebrant) to come forward to receive a blessing by crossing their arms over their chest. Holy Communion may be received twice in one calendar day, provided the second time occurs at a Mass which the recipient is attending (cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 917 [Hereafter, CIC]).
At the time of scheduling the Funeral Mass, firm plans for the final committal or burial of the deceased shall have already been established. If the body of the deceased is to be cremated, the cremation shall take place after the Funeral Mass (except in extraordinary circumstances when such is not feasible); the final committal or burial of the cremated remains shall take place soon after the cremation (cf. OCF, n. 413). The Order of Christian Funerals explains: “The cremated remains of a body should be treated with the same respect given the human body from which they come. This includes the use of a worthy vessel to contain the ashes, the manner in which they are carried, the care and attention to appropriate placement and transport, and the final disposition. The cremated remains should be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium” (OCF, n. 417). With the approval of Pope Francis, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) published its Instruction Ad resurgendum cum Christo (2016) which states: “The Church continues to prefer the practice of burying the bodies of the deceased [over cremation], because this shows a greater esteem towards the deceased. Nevertheless, cremation is not prohibited, ‘unless it was chosen for reasons contrary to Christian doctrine’” (n. 4). The CDF reiterates that the following practices are not permitted: keeping the cremated remains in a domestic residence; dividing them among various family members; scattering them in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way; preserving them in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects (nn. 6-7). Finally, the CDF states: “When the deceased notoriously has requested cremation and the scattering of their ashes for reasons contrary to the Christian faith, a Christian funeral must be denied to that person according to the norms of the law” (n. 8).
All funeral luncheons served by the St. Anne Catholic Church Funeral Luncheon Team shall take place in the Father Callahan Room, unless it is unavailable due to a previously schedule event. For funeral luncheons, alcoholic beverages are not permitted in the Father Callahan Room or on parish property. Funeral luncheons occurring on Ash Wednesday or Fridays during Lent do not exempt Roman Catholics from observing the Roman Catholic Church’s laws regarding abstinence from eating meat (cf. CIC, can. 1252).
“For Catholic Christians, cemeteries, especially Catholic cemeteries, call to mind the resurrection of the dead” (OCF, n. 416).