Funerals at St. Francis
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:1-3).
The Celebration of Funerals
“The Christian funeral is a liturgical celebration of the Church. The ministry of the Church in this instance aims at expressing efficacious communion with the deceased, at the participation in that communion of the community gathered for the funeral, and at the proclamation of eternal life to the community” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1684).
Because of our belief not only in the immortality of the soul but also in the resurrection of the body, the Church professes hope in the face of death and acts with charity in the funeral rites.
One of the first steps in planning a Christian funeral is contacting the parish. For funerals and memorial services at St. Francis, please contact the parish office at 210-492-4600.
You do not have to wait until your loved one has passed away before you contact us for funeral planning! Many families will make arrangements ahead of time. Although it can feel morbid to discuss these arrangements, it is a prudent and compassionate course of action that can take a lot of stress and uncertainty away from family members and allow them to focus on the celebration of life.
The St. Francis Music Ministry can provide music for funerals at the church, and the parish can also create a worship aid free of charge for the funeral. These are additional reasons why it is important to reach out to the parish as soon as possible so that the musicians can be notified and the parish staff has time to work with the family to put together the worship aid.
Is Cremation Permitted?
While the Church continues to hold a preference for corporeal burial, cremation has become part of Catholic practice in the United States and around the world.
Cremation is often presented as a more affordable alternative to traditional burial. The cremated remains of a body should be treated with the same respect given to 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. The practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping cremated remains in the home of a relative or friend of the deceased is not the reverent disposition that the Church requires.
The Church’s reverence and care for the body grow out of a reverence and concern for the person whom the Church now commends to the care of God. This is the body once washed in baptism, anointed with the oil of salvation, and fed with the bread of life. This is the body whose hands clothed the poor and embraced the sorrowing. The human body is so inextricably associated with the human person that it is hard to think of a human person apart from his or her body. That is why, even with cremation, proper Church practices need to be followed.
Parts of the Catholic Funeral Rite
The Catholic funeral rite is divided into several stations, or parts, each with its own purpose. For this reason, we recommend following the complete structure and making use of each station.
Vigil Service (Wake)
“At the vigil, the Christian community keeps watch with the family in prayer to the God of mercy and finds strength in Christ’s presence” (Order of Christian Funerals, no. 56). The Vigil Service usually takes place during the period of visitation and viewing at the funeral home. It can also take place at the church, but that may involve more expenses to transport the body. It is a time to remember the life of the deceased and to commend him/her to God. In prayer, we ask God to console us in our grief and give us the strength to support one another.
The Vigil Service can take the form of a Service of the Word with readings from Sacred Scripture accompanied by reflection and prayers.
It is most appropriate, when family and friends are gathered together for visitation, to offer time for recalling the life of the deceased. For this reason, eulogies are usually encouraged to be done at the funeral home or church during visitation or at the Vigil Service. Families often pray the Rosary during the Vigil Service, but it is not required as part of the rite.
The funeral liturgy is the central liturgical celebration of the Christian community for the deceased. When one of its members dies, the Church encourages the celebration of the funeral liturgy at a Mass. When Mass cannot be celebrated, a funeral liturgy outside Mass can be celebrated at the church or in the funeral home.
At the funeral liturgy, the Church 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 seek strength in the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery. The funeral liturgy, therefore, is an act of worship, and not merely an expression of grief.
Rite of Committal (Burial or Interment)
The Rite of Committal, the conclusion of the funeral rite, is the final act of the community of faith in caring for the body of its deceased member. It should normally be celebrated at the place of committal, that is, beside the open grave or place of interment. In committing the body to its resting place, the community expresses the hope that, with all those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, the deceased awaits the glory of the resurrection. The Rite of Committal is an expression of the communion that exists between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven: the deceased passes with the farewell prayers of the community of believers into the welcoming company of those who need faith no longer, but see God face-to-face.
The Rite of Committal may be presided over by a priest, deacon, religious brother or sister, or layperson.
Sacred Scripture Readings for Funerals
“The liturgy of the Word during funerals demands very careful preparation because the assembly present for the funeral may include some faithful who rarely attend the liturgy, and friends of the deceased who are not Christians” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1688).
In every celebration for the dead, the Church attaches great importance to the reading of the word of God. The readings proclaim to the assembly the Paschal Mystery, teach remembrance of the dead, convey the hope of being gathered together again in God’s Kingdom, and encourage the witness of Christian life. Above all, the readings tell of God’s designs for a world in which suffering and death will relinquish their hold on all whom God has called his own. A careful selection and use of readings from Scripture for the funeral rites will provide the family and the community with an opportunity to hear God speak to them in their needs, sorrows, fears, and hopes.
There are three readings and a responsorial psalm during the funeral liturgy (1st Reading, 2nd Reading, and Gospel) and usually two readings and a responsorial psalm during the vigil service (1st Reading and Gospel). While families have many wonderful choices available to them from Sacred Scripture and are free to choose readings that were personally important and meaningful or reflective of their deceased loved one, the following are some of the most common choices.
For Baptized Children
For Children who Died before Baptism
Music at Funerals
“Music is integral to the Funeral rites. It allows the community to express convictions and feelings that word 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. The texts of the songs chosen for a particular celebration should express the paschal mystery of the Lord’s suffering, death, and triumph over death and should be related to the readings from Scripture” (Order of Christian Funerals, no. 30).
Secular songs are not permitted during the funeral liturgy. While we understand these songs may have held special significance for the deceased, they are inappropriate for a liturgical setting. The music at the funeral must always have ties to Sacred Scripture or to the paschal mystery we celebrate.
In Lieu of Flowers
Instead of purchasing flowers, families can ask that contributions be offered in memory of their loved one. St. Francis offers an In Lieu of Flowers donation option. For those writing a check, please make the check out to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and write “In Lieu of Flowers” in the memo. If you know which organization or ministry the family has designated (e.g., Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, etc.), you can also include that in the memo of the check. If you are donating online, please go to https://giving.parishsoft.com/App/Giving/stf4201237 and select a fund in the drop-down menu. If you have any questions, please contact our bookkeeper, Nikki Galdamez, at 210-492-4600 ext. 208 or at email@example.com.
Funeral planning can be overwhelming and exhausting. Let us accompany you during this process. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” and whoever believes in him will live. This is our great Christian hope; therefore, even amidst the grief of death, we have tremendous joy knowing that Christ, our savior, is ushering our deceased loved ones into eternal life. That is why we celebrate their lives with the funeral rite.