Bereavement Ministry at St. John of the Cross Parish
Support When a Loved One Dies
If we have died with Christ,
we believe we shall also live with him.
As Christians we celebrate the funeral rites to offer worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God for the gift of a life which has now been returned to God. Together as one community of believers, we face the reality of death and grief, but confidently witness to Christian hope in the resurrection.
The Bereavement Ministry of St. John of the Cross Parish, under the direction of our pastor, Rev. David P. Dowdle, offers support and consolation to bereaved families at the time of death and throughout the religious rites.
What is a Bereavement Ministry and how can they help me?
The purpose of the Bereavement Ministry is to witness Christ’s love for His flock by sharing with fellow parishioners the loss of a loved one by our presence and prayers; to be available to a assist the family and friends in whatever way possible; and to support our parish community with love and compassion.
Who are bereavement ministers?
Our parish bereavement ministers are trained to assist grieving families in planning liturgically appropriate and meaningful funeral rites. The volunteer minister serves as your liaison between family and the presiding priest to guide and assist you at this difficult time.
What happens when a loved one dies?
When a loved one dies, the family meets with a funeral director to plan many of the details of the wake, funeral and burial or cremation. At this time the director will contact our parish to schedule a funeral liturgy.
When our parish is notified of the death, a parish bereavement minister then contacts the family to offer assistance with the plans for the liturgical services.
How will the bereavement minister help me?
Planning the Funeral Rites
Planning services offered by the bereavement ministers help to guide families through the three distinct rites of the Order of Christian Funerals:
The Wake Service (Visitation)
The Liturgy (usually a Mass)
The Rite of Committal (at Cemetery)
The Wake Service can be led by a deacon, priest, family member or friends of the deceased. It offers opportunities for family and friends to pray together, to eulogize the deceased, play secular music, and read scripture and poetry.
In addition to representing the parish community at the wake service, the minister assists the family in understanding and planning the funeral Mass. They assist in the selection of the readings and in the designation of liturgical ministers to make the ceremony a fitting memorial for the deceased and a comfort to the family.
Members of our parish community form the Resurrection Choir, which along with a parish organist and cantor, provide music for the funeral Mass.
Following the funeral liturgy, the body of the deceased is taken to the place of interment. At this Rite of Committal a priest, deacon, other bereavement minister may offer prayers at the cemetery or mausoleum before the burial.
Tell me more about meeting with my bereavement minister. Is there anything I should do before our meeting?
The minister will meet with you and any other family members planning the funeral at the parish center. At the meeting, which will last about 1 hour, the minister will ask you to share some memories about the life of the deceased to help plan a meaningful liturgy. Then the minister will explain the parts of a funeral Mass and help guide you in choosing appropriate readings, petitions, and music selections. He or she will also ask you to decide who you would like to participate as a lector and who you would like to bring up the gifts at the offertory.
What if we want a song at the funeral Mass that is not on the list, but holds special memories for the deceased or for our family?
Music is integral to the funeral rites. Hymns and songs that help to express our Christian hope, consolation for those who mourn and that help to point us to the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s saving death and resurrection should, as much as possible, be part of each of the three major ritual moments: the wake, the funeral Mass and the committal service. Music or songs that are not liturgical or are otherwise inappropriate for the funeral Mass can be included at various times such as the wake or after the committal service at the cemetery. Typically families will use the wake service to share pictures and videos put to special music as a way to share special memories about a loved one.
Can we have a Eulogy or Words of Remembrance at the end of the Mass?
Eulogies and personal remembrances have their place at the wake service but not, as such, in the funeral Mass itself. The Mass is offered for the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of the soul of the departed. The liturgy speaks of the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, which give the deepest meaning to the life of the deceased.
In this context, a time for speaking in remembrance may be placed between the Post-Communion prayer at the end of the Mass and the Commendation. A family member or friend may say a brief word of thanks to those attending and share what the deceased meant to those who loved him/her. Because of the sensitivity of the funeral experience, the reflection should be written ahead of time. The words of remembrance should be limited to 3 minutes and submitted in writing to the priest celebrant of the Mass.
What happens after the cemetery?
Following the Rite of Committal or the burial, the bereavement minister can provide the families with information on grief recovery programs and counseling. Seasons of Hope grief support is offered in the Fall and Spring at St. John of the Cross Parish. In addition people often choose to begin Spiritual Direction after a death of a loved one. For more information on Spiritual Direction contact Marianne Firlit 708-246-4404 or email@example.com
Can a Bereavement Minister help me pre-plan a funeral for me or a loved one?
Ministers are available to help you pre-plan a funeral liturgy. To ensure your wishes or those of a loved one are honored, you can choose to pre-plan your service to include your favorite scriptures or music easing the burden on those who are grieving. To plan a funeral call the parish center at 708-246-4404 and you will be contacted by a Bereavement Minister who will assist you.
How much do funerals cost?
Typically funeral directors itemize all costs within their billing. Outlined are customary fees families will incur for a funeral or memorial Mass at our parish:
Church Stipend: $100
Musician, Piano/Organ Accompanist: $100
Each additional musician: $100
3 Altar Servers: $5-$10 each
If a funeral home is not used, these fees can be given to your bereavement minister. Checks for musicians are made out directly to them and not the church. Email Jessica Koch, Director of Music at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain the names of musicians. If a family is unable to make these payments, arrangements can be made through the presiding priest.
Can we have a Visitation at the church?
Sometimes families who do not use a funeral home still want to receive visitors before the funeral Mass. If the church schedule permits, families may gather in our church community room prior to the funeral. A fee of $500 will be incurred for use of this room.
What times are available for a funeral Mass?
At our parish, funeral Masses are typically at 9:45am or 11:15am Monday through Saturday.
Can we use the parish center for a luncheon after Mass?
If the parish center schedule permits, arrangements can be made to use a portion of or all of the parish center space for a luncheon. Typically families employ a caterer to handle the luncheon details. Families will incur a fee of $500-750 for use of this space.
Will my deceased loved one’s name be remembered in prayer at Sunday Mass?
Yes, when the funeral director arranges for a funeral Mass at St. John of the Cross, the deceased person’s name and immediate family members’ names are recorded and then read during the Prayer of the Faithful at the subsequent Sunday Masses as well as in the parish bulletin. Information on the visitation and funeral Mass can also be shared on our parish website. If the funeral for a loved one is held at a different church, an immediate family member may contact the parish center office to let us know so that we may pray for him or her.
Can Catholics be cremated?
The Church prefers to bury the body of the deceased in consecrated ground. For a variety of reasons, some people may prefer to have the body of the deceased cremated before it is buried. The burial or inurnment in a cemetery, mausoleum, or columbarium should occur as soon as possible after the funeral Mass so that the cremated remains of the body are not kept in the funeral home or family home. Out of respect for the body, the Church does not permit the cremated remains of the body to be scattered over water or some favorite place. Cremated remains are to be given the same respect as the body they were.
Is the funeral Mass celebrated the same way when a loved one is cremated?
Yes, when a body or cremains are present, the funeral liturgy at Mass is celebrated in the normal way. Oftentimes the urn (with the cremated remains) is placed on a table near the altar and paschal candle along with flowers and a picture of the deceased . A memorial Mass is celebrated with the family when a body is donated to advance medical science or when it is not possible to have the body or cremains present at Mass.
I am concerned that my loved one died without being anointed by a priest?
As Catholics we believe that what happened to Jesus in His resurrection from the dead will also one day happen to us. This hope in life after death has brought joy and comfort to believers as they mourn the death and experience the loss of a loved one. Whether or not a loved one was anointed before the moment of death, their soul is received by Christ into eternal happiness.
Through the celebration of the Rite of Penance and the Anointing of the Sick, the Church can strengthen a person’s ability to cope with life-destroying illness and prepare to meet Christ, our Judge and Redeemer. Through the celebration of Viaticum, a person’s last Holy Communion, the Church shares with the dying Catholic the Eucharistic food needed for the final journey to the Lord. When the Anointing of the Sick is given, the hoped for effect is that if it be God’s will, the person be physically healed of illness. But even if there is no physical healing, the primary effect of the Sacrament is a spiritual healing by which the sick person receives the Holy Spirit’s gift of peace and courage to deal with serious illness or the frailty of old age.