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Planning a Catholic funeral may seem complicated and confusing if you’ve never done it before. You might have questions about who can be involved in the service, from the officiant to the musicians, and so on. Are there restrictions on who can be involved in a Catholic funeral?

  • A priest must perform the funeral Mass. However, deacons, religious and lay ministers may preside over the Vigil (scripture) service, and at the Rite of Committal at the cemetery. In fact, parishes often have designated lay bereavement ministers who will perform these rites.
  • A funeral Mass may not be performed at a funeral home. The Funeral Liturgy, different than Funeral Mass due to the celebration of the Eucharist being involved, can be celebrated at a funeral home when a funeral Mass is not permitted or possible. This liturgy can be performed by a deacon when a priest is not available.
  • The scripture readings at a funeral Mass must be given by Catholics. During a Funeral Liturgy outside Mass, non-Catholics are permitted to do some of the readings. Secular readings are not permitted, and your parish priest can help you choose appropriate scriptures for the service.
  • In most parishes, musicians are provided by the parish. Many parishes do not allow families to choose musicians to perform during the Mass. If a family member should wish to sing, it may be permissible for that person to sing before the Mass begins or after it has concluded. The songs chosen for the funeral must be religious in nature and chosen from a designated list.
  • Who can give the eulogy at a Catholic funeral? No one. Eulogies are not permitted in Catholic funerals, because the focus of the funeral is to be on Christ and our faith, rather than the person who has died. If friends and family members would like to say a few words about their loved one, these are best spoken at the Vigil or at a reception following the service. However, the funeral rite allows for “words of remembrance” where a member or friend of the family may speak in remembrance of the deceased before the final commendation begins. Note, it is to be one person and not a series of persons, and it takes place following the prayer after Communion. It is not a eulogy, a biography of life events, but insight into the faith and values of the deceased in one or two examples that would support the bereaves and could deepen the listeners faith in eternal life as a Catholic Christian.

The Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of San Jose is proud to be a part of the Catholic Community in San Jose, California, providing a sacred place where families can remember loved ones in a peaceful and hope-filled setting. If you have questions, we’re happy to answer them. We have three locations: Calvary Catholic Cemetery in San Jose, Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos, and St. John the Baptist Cemetery in Milpitas. If you’d like to know more about our properties, or you need to know where to send flowers, you can contact us through our website, or call Calvary at 833-428-0379, Gate of Heaven at 833-304-0763, or St. John the Baptist at 833-428-0379.


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