There are three Funeral Rites of the Catholic Church that are offered for a deceased Christian.
• Vigil liturgy. The Vigil centres around readings from Sacred Scripture. It also includes prayer, reflection on God’s Word, music and song, and silent meditation. It might also comprise the recital of the Rosary. The Vigil is normally celebrated the evening before the Funeral Mass, either at the funeral home, the church, or another appropriate location.
• Funeral Mass. At this Mass, the community gathers with the family and friends of the deceased to give praise and thanks to God for Christ’s victory over sin and death, to commend the deceased to God’s tender mercy and compassion, and to offer prayerful support to the deceased person’s loved ones.
• Committal. This usually takes place at the graveside and is the final act of the faith community. It is a very brief ritual that acknowledges the reality of separation and commends the deceased to God’s love. In some cases, because of weather and distance, this service may be prayed in the Church at the conclusion of the Funeral Mass.
While the Funeral Mass is the primary context in which funerals take place in Catholic parishes, it is not the only way. Sometimes, for certain reasons, a family may choose to have a Liturgy of the Word service instead of a full Mass.
At our Parishes of Deepdene & Balwyn and Camberwell, we initially work closely with the Funeral Directors in helping family members or a custodian to plan final arrangements.
It is usual practice that the Funeral Directors contact the Parish Office to ascertain the availability of a celebrant and arrange for a Mass and/or Committal service (and sometimes a Vigil) at the preferred date/time of the family or custodian. Once a date and time have been decided, the family/custodian will be contacted by our Parish Priest, Assistant Priest or Pastoral Associate to plan the Funeral Mass or service, the burial service and other funeral rites. This planning involves choosing readings and music and discussing how family and friends might be involved in the funeral liturgy.
While there are always elements of the funeral rites that are personalised to reflect the life of the deceased, it should always be remembered that Christians celebrate the funeral rites to offer worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God for the gift of a life which has now returned to God. Our parishes are obliged to follow guidelines (norms) stipulated by diocesan bishops that ensure the funeral is a prayerful act of the whole Church.
Our Parish Team is prepared to assist individuals and families in any way possible through the difficult time of losing a loved one and organising a funeral. A phone call to the Parish Office (9816 9291) as early as possible in the process of preparing for a funeral will allow us to plan and be of optimum availability to you. If the answering machine picks up, please leave a message and contact phone number.
We have resources and materials that can assist you every step along the way. We are here to accompany you and make this time of passing and bereavement one in which you are not overwhelmed with decisions or demands. Please do not hesitate to speak to us even if it is well before the time of passing occurs.