Checklists: Preparing for a Roman Catholic Funeral

After the death of a loved one, there are actions generally required, but one of the first steps for a Roman Catholic is to contact a priest so that last rites can be administered. The process of planning a Catholic Funeral Service can begin immediately. The service will be conducted by a Celebrant, who is usually a priest or deacon from the local parish. While there are different degrees of accepted practice within the Catholic Church, family and friends may play a significant role in the planning and leading of the funeral service. Consult with a local priest for best practices in your area.

This Checklist on “Preparing for a Roman Catholic Funeral” has a corresponding Essential under the same title. The Essential will give you assistance on how to fill out the Checklist. Together, they will guide you through situations that often occur during a time of loss.


Processional

The processional is usually a hymn sung by a soloist or the congregation. It may also be a hymn played on the organ.


Welcome

The welcome is a greeting and expression of thankfulness on behalf of the family. It may be given by either the Celebrant or a family member or friend.


Tribute or Eulogy

This is not traditionally a part of the funeral mass, but reserved for the vigil the night before. It may be included with the blessing of the priest if a vigil was not held. As a part of the mass, it should be limited to one eulogy.


Opening Prayer

The Celebrant leads the congregation in a prayer to Almighty God for His blessing on the service.


First Scripture Reading

A passage of Scripture is read by either the Celebrant or a family member or friend. The passage is traditionally selected from the approved list of Scripture passages. If a favorite Scripture is not on the approved list, it may be read with the blessing from the priest. See the article in the accompanying Essential for the approved list of Scriptures.


Responsorial Psalm or Hymn

Traditionally a psalm is selected from the approved list for a responsive reading with the Celebrant, family member, or friend and the congregation. The congregational singing of a hymn has become an accepted practice in many parishes. Consult the local priest for preferences in this area.

Second Scripture Reading

A second passage of Scripture from the approved list is read by either the Celebrant or a family member or friend.


Gospel Acclamation

The Gospel Acclamation is traditionally sung by a choir. You will need to consult with the local parish priest before including this in the service.

Gospel Reading

An approved passage of Scripture from the Gospels is read by either the Celebrant or a family member or friend.


Homily

The Celebrant relates the passages of Scripture read to the life of the deceased. Application and encouragement to the surviving family is made.


Prayer of the Faithful

One or more of the approved intercessions is given by either the Celebrant or a family member or friend with an appropriate response by the congregation. With the blessing of the priest, the family may choose to write their own intercession.

The following four segments are a part of the full Catholic Funeral Mass. If a complete mass is not to be give, skip down to “Prayers of Farewell and Final Commendation.”


Presentation of Gifts

Representatives of the family bring the bread and the wine to the Celebrant.


Offertory Hymn

The offertory hymn is usually a hymn sung by a soloist or the congregation while the family is presenting the bread and the wine. It may also be a hymn played on the organ.


Communion

The sacrament of Holy Communion is offered to the congregation. The congregation will come forward and receive the emblems and blessing from the Celebrant. Guests who are not Catholic may go to the front with others who are receiving Holy Communion. They should fold their arms across their chests, indicating that they will receive a blessing only. The same would be true for children who have not yet received their first Sacrament of Holy Communion.


Communion Hymn

The communion hymn is usually a hymn sung by the congregation at the close of the communion service. It may also be a hymn played on the organ.


Prayers of Farewell and Final Commendation

The Celebrant leads the congregation in final prayers on behalf of the deceased and the surviving family.


Recessional

The recessional is usually a hymn that is sung by the congregation while the casket is leaving the sanctuary.