Planning a Funeral

Planning a funeral Mass for a loved one can be a difficult time. There are many considerations and decisions to be made which can lead to a lot of confusion. The pastoral staff at Sacred Heart Church wants to help. After the loss of a loved one and prior to the funeral, when you contact the church, the priest or pastoral assistant will work with you to help you plan the funeral. This section is written to explain the normal stages of the Rite of Christian Burial when a Catholic dies. The Rite of Christian Burial in the Catholic Church consists of three parts:

  • The Wake
  • The Funeral Mass
  • The Interment at the Cemetery.

Since the beginning of the Church, these special liturgical rites have accompanied the burial of the dead. They express the faith both of the deceased and of the Christian community entrusted with the responsibility of burying reverently her members who have died. Sacred Heart Church will help you prepare a funeral according to the Catholic tradition. While we hope to fulfill all of you and your family’s wishes with regard to a funeral, we will help you follow the directives set up by the Catholic Church. If you have any questions not answered in this section, please feel free to ask a priest or give the parish office a call at (912)-537-7709.

The Wake

The wake is the important first part of the Church’s funeral rites. It provides the opportunity for those close to the deceased to express their grief and to be together as they prepare for the funeral. As part of the Rite of Christian Burial, it should be planned and carried out with great respect for our Catholic faith and tradition. Normally, the wake is held at the funeral home. If desired, it may be held at Sacred Heart. Below are a few considerations when planning the wake:

  • The wake, consists of two scripture readings, prayers and intercessions for the deceased, and usually the recitation of the Rosary.
  • Some parishioners have hours of visitation before or after the prayer service.
  • The wake is the appropriate time for members of the family and friends to share memories of the deceased or to pay tribute to the deceased.
  • It is the appropriate time to give a eulogy.
  • It is the appropriate time to display photographs and other objects which were dear to the deceased.
  • It is the appropriate time to play a favorite secular piece of music or song.

Frequently Asked Questions

When My Loved One Dies, Whom Should I Call?

You should contact the funeral home and then the church to speak with a priest or pastoral assistant.

After a Catholic Has Already Died, Should We Call for the Priest for the Last Rites?

Yes, you should call the priest who will come to the home or hospital and pray the Prayers for the Dead. The Last Rites or Anointing of the Sick should only be administered to a person who is living.

Does a Catholic Always Have to Have a Funeral Mass or is a Graveside Ceremony Sufficient?

The Funeral Mass is the appropriate and worthy ceremony for the funeral of a Catholic. Considerations of time, finances or a desire to lessen grieving should not weigh against the Funeral Mass.

Are There Times when a Mass Would Not Be Appropriate?

Yes, if a person was not a Catholic or not a practicing Catholic, a graveside service might be more appropriate. The priest can help with this decision.

Can a Non-catholic Spouse Be Buried from a Catholic Church?

Yes, if the non-Catholic did not have a church of his/her own and the Catholic family member requests it, the funeral, including the Mass can be celebrated.