Funerals, how we help

When someone dies, day or night, their family is encouraged to contact the Priest/Parish Office if he is available. The Priest may recite prayers for the dead, comfort the family and address any practical matters that arise.

Since Sacraments are for the living members of the Church, the Priest cannot anoint or baptise someone who has died.

Even if the family first meets with the funeral director, it is best not to make detailed funeral arrangements until after the Priest is contacted. This includes the day, place and time of the funeral, the kind of liturgy (Funeral Mass or Funeral Service), and the form of committal (burial or cremation). The Priest or his delegate needs to be involved in these decisions.

It is wise to allow at least three days before the funeral. This allows time for family members to grieve, for travel arrangements to be made, and for suitable preparations to be made.

Any member of the Catholic Church may have a Catholic funeral. In certain circumstances baptised Christians who are not Catholic may, if they wish, also have a Catholic funeral, such as when they belong to a largely Catholic family.

For more information, contact the parish office on (07) 3391 4663.


The Funeral Rite

In a similar way to most types and varieties of funeral service, planning a Catholic funeral service for your deceased loved one involves a range of different options and choices. There are many ways in which you are able to personalise the service, whilst still embracing the time-honored traditions of Roman Catholic funeral liturgy.

Reception of the Body into church the night before the funeral is still a common Roman Catholic practice, though less so than previously. Indeed, this is no longer possible in some of our local Catholic churches. Recent years have also seen a drift towards a single service held in the cemetery or crematorium chapel.

However, in the face of these modern trends, Catholics are encouraged to celebrate a funeral in three stages or movements, reflecting the Easter journey of Jesus Christ, from death to resurrection: The Vigil, The Funeral Liturgy and The Committal.

Planning in the Parish

When faced with the loss of a loved one, immediate planning of a funeral is a difficult and trying experience. Understandably, some families are reluctant to meet with the staff of their parish, who may be unfamiliar to them. For parish staff, especially the clergy, the death of a parishioner is a uniquely privileged and graced opportunity for the Church to initiate outreach to the family, to welcome and to minister to them, to evangelize, and, sometimes, to reconcile. Thus, those who mourn will find that the assistance of the dedicated clergy and laypersons who serve in parishes is invaluable. Parish staff can help expedite the task of planning the funeral rites and make the process less burdensome. Furthermore, the ordained members of a parish’s pastoral team – priests and deacons – are especially called to be Christ’s presence in such difficult times. By welcoming the ministry of the priest or deacon and by providing him with a better understanding of the life of the deceased, families will help to adapt and personalize the funeral rites in a way that meaningfully conveys the Church’s consolation and prayer.

The Vigil

The Reception of the Body into church may be celebrated as part of The Vigil, with the deceased remaining in church overnight, or may occur immediately before The Funeral Liturgy. Additionally, many traditional Roman Catholic families choose to recieve the body of the deceased into the family home the night before the funeral liturgy, or the day before the reception of the body into church.

The Funeral Liturgy

This is the main liturgical celebration of the Christian community for the deceased person and is usually held in church. This may take the form of a Funeral Mass or Requiem Mass, or a Funeral Liturgy outside Mass. The Catholic Church encourages a Mass, since the eucharist is the memorial celebration of Christ's own death and resurrection. Some Catholic churches and priests allow for a funeral liturgy outside the context of a Mass, which may be a preferred option for some families.
A funeral without a Mass may be celebrated in the home of the deceased, the funeral home, or the cemetery chapel.

The Committal

The Rite of Committal usually takes place immediately after the Funeral Liturgy. The final act of leave-taking is celebrated at the graveside, or in the crematorium chapel, depending on whether you choose to have a burial or a cremation.

Music at funerals

Because of the sacredness of the funeral and its focus on the Paschal Mystery with its promise of salvation, music should be carefully chosen to reflect our shared beliefs, especially as articulated in the Word of God. Ultimately, the purpose of music in the funeral rites is to offer praise and thanksgiving to God. Thus, each funeral is linked with the common prayer and musical tradition of the whole Church, especially the psalms, which have, throughout the ages, expressed the suffering and hope of all God’s people. Secular music is not the appropriate accompaniment to the sacred liturgy because it cannot express fully these values of ultimate significance.

The Choice of Burial or Cremation

Earth Burial has always been a traditional part of the Catholic funeral. The ceremony of burial, using prayers and symbols drawn from scripture, focuses the thoughts of the bereaved on the burial and subsequent resurrection of Jesus.

Burial allows the bereaved to face the reality of death. As the coffin is lowered into the grave, one is able to express one's farewell through the sprinkling of earth or holy water. The family are able to leave, knowing that the deceased person is 'settled' in a special place.

Cremation is a relatively new concept for Roman Catholics, with cremation only being permitted by the Vatican in 1963, and with the practice remaining much less common among Catholic familes than other Christian groups. Unlike burial, the act of cremation is not the end of the farewell process, and it is important that the natural cycle of bereavement and funeral rites is brought to completion through the act of interment of the cremated remains.

Cremated Remains ("ashes") are treated with the same reverence and respect shown to the body of the deceased person, and it is important that a resting place is reserved for them. Catholics are not permitted to retain ashes in the family home, nor are they permitted to scatter cremated remains.

After the Funeral

The funeral ceremony is often followed by a reception. This is an opportunity for mourners to meet and console one another, and forms an important part of the leave-taking process. The reception allows for emotional release following the stressful events of the funeral, and can foster an atmosphere of reconciliation and closure on the preceding days' events.


Merle Norris


Beloved Wife of Roley.  Much loved Mother of Geoff, Deborah, Greg, Pauline, Rosemary, Damian and Tim.  Loved and Loving grand-mother of Twenty and Great-grandmother of Thirteen. Family and Friends of Merle are invited to attend a Requiem Mass in...