The Funeral: Structure and Content

The Catholic Funeral Rite

1. Who may have a Roman Catholic funeral?

All baptized Catholics are entitled to a Roman Catholic funeral as are catechumens (adults
preparing for baptism in the Church) and children who die prior to baptism.

2. What is a Roman Catholic funeral like?

There are three parts to a Roman Catholic funeral:
1. Vigil for the Deceased (Wake or calling hours)

2. Funeral liturgy (Mass or service of the Word)

3. The Rite of Committal

3. What happens during the Vigil (Wake)?

Family and friends come together, most often in the presence of the body and typically at a funeral home, or sometimes, at the church.

During this time a priest, deacon or lay person will lead a brief prayer service with scripture
readings, intercessions and the opportunity for family and friends to reflect on the life of the deceased. The rosary or other prayers may be recited.

4. Is a funeral Mass different than a “regular” Mass?

The funeral Mass is a celebration of the Eucharist that includes some additional elements:
1. Covering the casket with a pall (white cloth) which signifies baptism in Christ.
2. Sprinkling the casket with holy water, which also is a remembrance of baptism .
3. Liturgy of the Mass in accordance with the Order of Christian Funerals.

A Service of the Word, (rather than Mass), may be celebrated under special circumstances, such as when no priest is available to celebrate Mass, when there is no body or
remains present (for instance, because of burial elsewhere) or when the majority of those
participating are not Roman Catholic. Please speak with one of the parish priests if you are considering this option.

5.  What is the Rite of Committal? 

This is a very brief service consisting of prayer and perhaps a short reading from Scripture that takes place graveside or at the columbarium.  An honor guard may be included for military veterans.

6. Who should I contact to take funeral arrangements at St. Bernadette?

Please call Matt Molesworth, director of music and funerals, at 571-242-2517, or stop in the main office anytime during office hours.