Sacraments and Rites

Rite of Christian Burial

Our Deepest Sympathy...

We direct these words in particular to those who have lost loved ones. The parish clergy, the pastoral staff and the parishioners of Saint Kilian Parish offer our prayerful support especially at this time of your loss. We want you to know that in the days and months ahead we are willing to be of whatever help we might be to you. We are also aware that we cannot remove your pain, but we hope to be able to assist you in whatever way possible as you attempt to find God's loving presence even in the midst of suffering. In addition to the parish clergy and pastoral staff, there is a bereavement group within the parish which also may be of help to you.

Below, please find information to assist in planning a Funeral Liturgy and celebrating the Rites of Christian Burial. Selections for readings, songs and family member participation in the Mass. You may also download this information for ease of printing by selecting from the following:

Pastoral Principles
The Catholic Church celebrates the Rites of Christian Burial chiefly for two reasons (as given in The Order of Christian Funerals, article four):

  1. "The Church intercedes on behalf of the deceased" and
  2. "The Church ministers to the sorrowing and consoles them with the Word of God and the Sacrament of the Eucharist."

Responding to this directive of the universal Church, Saint Kilian Parish takes seriously its responsibility to minister to those who have died and to their families and loved ones. We do so in several ways, most notably, in the way we celebrate the liturgical rites provided for the deceased.

Within the limits of available pastoral staff and facilities, this parish will celebrate the Rites of Christian Burial for all those who seek them (except those who are prohibited from receiving such rites by the universal law of the Church).

While it is expected that the Rite of Christian Burial be celebrated for baptized Catholics, the Catholic Church also permits the rites to be celebrated for unbaptized children (of Christian families) as well as baptized members of non-Catholic communities of faith.

While the Catholic Church continues to encourage the ancient custom of burying the dead, cremation is permitted (unless it is evident that cremation was chosen by the deceased or the family for reasons contrary to Catholic faith e.g. because of lack of faith in the resurrection of the dead). Where cremation is to take place, the following are the options for a funeral liturgy:

  1. The body may be brought to the church for the funeral Mass and then cremation follows.
  2. Cremation may take place and the funeral Mass is celebrated in the presence of the ashes;
  3. A service of prayer and Scripture reading may take place in the funeral home with cremation following.

Please note that it is the Church's expectation that out of respect for the remains of the deceased, the ashes of cremated persons should be buried or entombed.

Special pastoral care is appropriate in the case of a person who dies as a result of suicide. While the Catholic Church would never condone such action, neither does it pass judgement on such a person. For it is quite possible that the person committing suicide was not in full possession of their rational faculties at the time of the act. Nor are we able to determine precisely the emotional or faith disposition of the person at the moment of death. Therefore, it is the normal pastoral response to provide for such persons all the appropriate rites of Christian burial . These rites are also provided in view of the family's special need for the prayerful support of the Christian community.

The Rite of Christian Burial provides for a variety of prayerful celebrations. While the traditional practice is the celebration of a funeral Mass, circumstances may dictate a preference for a service of Scripture and prayer in the funeral home (and/or at the cemetery). This might be appropriate where the family or loved ones are not of the Catholic faith, or where the deceased has never been a active Catholic. If there are questions regarding this matter, the parish clergy would be happy to discuss them with the family.

At the same time, persons who regularly participated in the celebration of the Eucharist should not be deprived of the funeral Mass simply because few (if any) relatives and/or friends might attend. The number of mourners should not be the determining factor in whether or not a funeral Mass is celebrated.

Occasionally, people will ask whether or not a deceased person will be denied Christian burial because he or she did not receive the "last rites." The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick (not "last rites") is the Church's prayer for health and healing. It is not administered to those who have died. Nor is the reception of this sacrament required in order for a person to be buried from the Church.

Parish Policies
We welcome the presence of other priests as concelebrants at funeral Masses. If the family requests another priest to conduct the entire funeral, the family should contact the priest, verify his availability and ask him to contact Saint Kilian Parish to confirm his willingness to celebrate the Rites of Christian Burial at Saint Kilian Parish. Unless we hear from the priest we will not assume his presence.

Normally, the clergy of the parish will visit the family of the deceased in the funeral home sometime before the funeral. If the family wishes the priest to pray with them, they should indicate that. If they wish the rosary to be said, we will oblige, but our preference is for a brief Service of the Word.

Normally the clergy of Saint Kilian Parish do not conduct any type of concluding service in the funeral home immediately before the body is brought to the church for the funeral.

Generally, the clergy of Saint Kilian Parish will accompany the body to the cemetery. However, in some instances, this may not be possible (e.g. because of the number of funerals on a given day, or the distance to the cemetery). In such cases, the parish will provide a "Rite of Committal" which may be used by the funeral director, family member, or others.

If a flag covers the casket when it is brought to the church, it must be removed so that the funeral pall (large white cloth) may be placed upon the casket.

If the family wishes, funeral flowers may be brought to the church for the funeral and left there following the funeral as a memorial to the deceased (usually this is limited to two baskets or arrangements). During Lent and Advent when the churches are not decorated with flowers, they will be removed following the funeral.

Parish Funeral Procedures
Phone calls regarding funerals are accepted at any time. Contact with Saint Kilian Parish should be made by means of the phone number of the Parish Center (724-625-1665). Calls made to any other phone number may confuse parish lines of communication and result in needless repetition of essential information.

Financial arrangements for funerals at Saint Kilian Parish are as indicated on the page that accompanies this booklet.

Families may participate in Funeral Masses at Saint Kilian Parish in the following ways:

  1. Placing the pall (white cloth) over the casket at the beginning of the liturgy
  2. Placing some religious symbol upon the pall
  3. eading the first or second Scriptural readings
  4. Being part of the procession with the gifts (usually two people)
  5. Making some brief remark at the end of the liturgy
  6. Selecting Scripture readings and hymns to be used during the liturgy

This type of participation is entirely optional and those wishing to do so will find appropriate places to note this on the Funeral Litergy Planning Sheet online or in PDF printable format.

Music Selections for Funerals
Listed below are various selections and the categories they would most likely fit when planning your liturgy. Please consult Mr. David Dreher, Director of Music Ministries, for further information at 724.625.1665 x2113.

*Please Note: These recordings are for planning purposes only and for private listening.  They are not meant for general distribution and will be a violation of protected copyrights.


Scriptural Readings for Funerals
Please click here for sample choices for Scripture readings at a funeral Mass (or other service). Please remember that only Scriptural readings may be selected for use at a funeral Mass. No readings from secular sources may be used. The Funeral Planning Sheet contains places to note your selections. You may choose one Old Testament and one New Testament reading in addition to the Gospel. You may also elect to have proclaimed only one reading (Old or New Testament) and the Gospel.

Those selected to read the Sacred Scripture at a funeral should be appropriately dressed and able to read in a manner which can be understood by all in the congregation. During Mass the readings take place immediately following the opening prayer. If there are two readers, both may go to the lectern together and remain there until both have finished reading. Please note that the organist / cantor will usually sing a response following the first scriptural reading.

Funeral Liturgy Planning Form
We at Saint Kilian Parish share your sorrow at the loss of your loved one. We would like to make planning of the funeral liturgy as easy and personal as possible. Please select from the following:

Guidelines for the Reception of Communion in Catholic Churches

  • For Catholics:
    As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive holy communion. We are encouraged to receive communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason when there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition including the intention of confession as soon as possible.

  • For Fellow Christians:
    We welcome our fellow Christians to the celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us close to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions that separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear in keeping with Christ's prayer for us "that they may all be one" (John 17:21). Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to holy communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires the permission of the diocesan bishop.

  • For Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church:
    They are urged to respect the discipline of their own churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, canon law does not object to their reception of communion.

  • For Those Not Receiving Holy Communion:
    All who are not receive holy communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayer for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another.

  • For Non-Christians:
    We also welcome to the celebration of the Eucharist those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ. While we cannot admit them to holy communion, we ask them to offer their prayers for the peace and unity of the human family.

Memorial Crosses
A tradition of Saint Kilian Parish is to place a small wooden cross on the casket at the beginning of the funeral liturgy. After the Mass the cross is removed and a brass plate is placed on the cross engraved with the name of the parishioner and the date of their passing. This cross is hung on the back wall of the Church.

Our Parish remembers these loved ones and their families in prayer throughout the year. On All Soul's Day the crosses are taken down and a special Mass is held to commemorate these parishioners and All Souls. Family members are invited to this Mass and the cross is given to them as a memorial.

Prayers for the Dead
The following are prayers taken from the Order of Christian Funerals that may give you comfort and strength during the time of your grief.

God of faithfulness,
in your wisdom you have called your servant N. out of this world;
release him/her from the bonds of sin,
and welcome him/her into your presence,
so that he/she may enjoy eternal light and peace
and be raised up in glory with all of your saints.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lord, in our grief we turn to you.
Are you not the God of love
who opens your ears to all?
Listen to our prayers for your servant N.,
whom you have called out of this world:
lead him/her to your kingdom of light and peace
and count him/her among the saints in glory.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
God of loving kindness,
listen favorably to our prayers:
strengthen our belief that your Son has risen from the dead
and our hope that your servant N. will also rise again.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
O God,
glory of believers and life of the just,
by the death and resurrection of your Son, we are redeemed:
have mercy on your servant N.,
and make him/her worthy to share the joys of paradise,
for he/she believed in the resurrection of the dead.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
O God,
to whom mercy and forgiveness belong,
hear our prayers on behalf of your servant N.,
whom you have called out of this world;
and because he/she put his/her hope and trust in you,
command that he/she be carried safely home to heaven
and come to enjoy your eternal reward.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Almighty God and Father,
by the mystery of the cross, you have made us strong;
by the sacrament of the resurrection
you have sealed us as your own.
Look kindly upon your servant N.,
now freed from the bonds of mortality,
and count him/her among your saints in heaven.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
Into your hands, O Lord,
we humbly entrust our brother/sister N.
In this life you embraced him/her with your tender love;
deliver him/her now from every evil
and bid him/her enter eternal rest.
The old order has passed away:
welcome him/her then into paradise,
where there will be no sorrow, no weeping nor pain,
but the fullness of peace and joy with your Son and the Holy Spirit
for ever and ever. Amen.
Lord God, in whom all find refuge,
we appeal to your boundless mercy:
grant to the soul of your servant N.
a kindly welcome,
cleansing of sin,
release from the chains of death,
and entry into everlasting life.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Holy Lord, almighty and eternal God, hear our prayers for your servant N.,
whom you have summoned out of this world.
Forgive his/her sins and failings
and grant him/her a place of refreshment, light and peace.
Let him/her pass unharmed through the gates of death
to dwell with the blessed in light,
as you promised to Abraham and his children forever.
Accept N. into your safe keeping
and on the great day of judgment
raise him/her up with all the saints
to inherit your eternal kingdom.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.