The list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) provides a comprehensive list of resources from the Office of Worship on popular topics/questions asked.
How do I become an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion?
Those who assist as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion must be fully initiated in the Roman Catholic Church, that is, they are to have received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, and must be capable of fulfilling the physical requirements of this ministry (e.g. climbing stairs, holding vessels). If you feel called to this ministry, contact your pastor, hospital chaplain, or campus minister to discuss this ministry. It is the responsibility of the pastor, or his equivalent, the hospital chaplain, or the campus minister to select those faithful who live a life in accord with the faith of the Catholic Church for service as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. (IBID. 11)
How old must I be to serve as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion?
How do I register for a diocesan emHC Formation session?
Parishes or institutions (high schools, hospitals, etc.) are responsible for registration of attendees. Our office uses a third-party event-management system, Eventbrite, for session registration. This is all done online, and is password-protected. The password is sent to parishes and institutions in the body of the email advertising the formation sessions. This password is not given out to individual parishioners or students. Parishes or institutions which have difficulty registering attendees should view the registration instructions found on our website or contact the Office for Worship.
My loved one is gravely ill, hospitalized, on hospice care, or actively dying. What should I do now?
Contact your loved ones’ Catholic parish. If you are not sure which Catholic parish they belong to, start with the parish church closest geographically to your loved ones’ home. The Church is able to provide comfort and consolation to your loved one, including the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, Holy Communion as Viaticum, and pastoral visits. These visits may also comfort and console your family and friends.
My loved one has died. What should I do now?
Does the Catholic Church allow cremation?
Yes, the Catholic Church allows cremation, within certain guidelines (2016 Vatican Instruction: to Rise With Christ):
The Church continues to prefer the practice of burying the bodies of the deceased [in cemeteries or other sacred places], because this shows a greater esteem towards the deceased.
When cremation has been chosen, the ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place: a cemetery, or in a church or another area which has been set aside and dedicated by the bishop for this purpose.
A simple but worthy funeral urn is most appropriate for containing the ashes after cremation.
Keeping the ashes of the deceased in a domestic residence is not permitted.
The ashes may not be divided among various family members.
It is not permitted to scatter the ashes in the air, on land, at sea.
It is not permitted to [preserve the ashes] in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects.
Is there a book that can tell me about Catholic funerals?
The Order of Christian Funerals, published in 1989, contains a clear theology of the attitude of the Catholic Church toward life after death and the respect the Church has for the human person, body and soul. An appendix to this ritual on cremation was published in 1997. The use of both is required in the United States. There are various Catholic funeral preparation guidelines published for use by the faithful on the occasion of a loved ones’ death. Your parish will be able to direct you to one of these resources, or you may contact the Office for Worship to learn more.
Does the Catholic Church allow organ or body donation?
My loved one was an active, practicing Catholic, but the family is not. Is a funeral Mass required?
The Church’s care for Catholics includes the celebration of their life, and their faith in the resurrection, with a funeral Mass. Even if other family members are not practicing Catholics, a funeral Mass is the best choice for a practicing Catholic who has died. Remember, the parish church community was also a part of your loved ones’ life, and many members of the parish will also want an opportunity to mourn and to celebrate your loved one.
My loved one was not an active Catholic. May they still have a funeral Mass?
Where does a funeral Mass take place?
The preferred location is your loved one’s parish church. In some circumstances, the parish church of someone else in your loved one’s family may be appropriate. The permanent chapel of a Catholic nursing home may also be used, if your loved one was a longtime resident. The pastor of your loved ones’ parish church should be part of the discussion when determining where to celebrate your loved ones’ funeral Mass.
When does a funeral Mass take place?
Does the Catholic Church allow eulogies? How are eulogies different from homilies? What are “remarks/words of remembrance?”
A eulogy (“to speak well of someone”) is a brief speech about the good qualities of the deceased person. Eulogies are appropriate when spoken at the funeral home during the visitation, during the Vigil in the church, or during a family gathering after the Committal (burial); eulogies are not appropriate during the funeral Mass. In contrast, the homily, given by the priest (or in some cases, the deacon) during the funeral Mass brings together the Scripture readings of the funeral Mass, the Catholic belief in the resurrection, and some qualities of the deceased person’s life that may be examples of the Scripture texts, or of Christian living in general.
Remarks/words of remembrance are an option before the prayers of Commendation, near the end of the funeral Mass. These remarks are not a eulogy, but a brief word of thanksgiving for the life and faith of the deceased. Only one person should make these remarks, and that person should stand next to the priest celebrant to make these remarks, rather than standing at the ambo or lectern.
What are the parts of the funeral Mass? How should we prepare our loved ones’ funeral Mass?
Funeral Masses include songs and hymns, Scripture readings, prayers, and sharing of the Eucharistic elements: the Body and Blood of Christ under the appearance of consecrated bread and consecrated wine. Your loved one may have made some funeral Mass plans before their death. If these can be found, they will be a good starting place. Your loved ones’ parish church staff will also have many resources to assist you in planning your loved ones’ funeral. Contact your loved ones’ parish church as soon after their death as possible, so that the church staff is able to assist you in making your loved ones’ funeral Mass plans.
How much does a funeral Mass cost?
Masses are not bought and sold, and so, in that sense, a funeral Mass does not “cost” anything. The inability of an individual to make a donation to the parish church should never be a reason for a parish not to provide a funeral Mass for a practicing Catholic. That being said, parish churches do incur costs for the use of the building, the time invested by the parish staff, and for the skills of parish musicians, altar servers, and others involved in celebrating your loved ones’ funeral Mass. A donation from the family to offset these costs, while not required, is greatly appreciated. If your family wishes to make a donation to the parish to offset funeral expenses, make these arrangements with the pastor or the parish secretary.
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