Every Catholic, unless specifically excluded by the norms of law, is entitled to the Church’s ministry at the time of death.
In coordination with the parish staff, the family of the deceased and the funeral director chosen by the family arrange the place and set the time for the Vigil, the Funeral Mass or Funeral Service and the Rite of Committal.
The Funeral Mass is ordinarily the central element of Catholic funerals in the Catholic Church. The Funeral Mass is a prayer for God’s mercy for the deceased and a solace for the living, including the entire faith community.
Catechumens may be given Catholic Funeral Rites.
Catholic Funeral Rites, including the Funeral Mass, are permitted for a deceased baptized non-Catholic who might reasonably be presumed to desire or prefer the Catholic rite. Such a decision would be appropriate when non-Catholics worship regularly in the Catholic Church or identify with the Catholic Church more than any other.
To foster and respect family bonds, non-Catholic members of Catholic families may be interred in a Catholic cemetery (St. Mary’s Cemetery is owned by Our Lady of the Gulf parish). Clergy of other communions may conduct the cemetery rites according to their tradition, if the family so desires or if it was the expressed wish of the deceased.
The Church encourages the burial of Catholics in Catholic cemeteries. Burial in the consecrated ground of a Catholic cemetery is a sign of baptismal commitment and gives witness, even in death, to faith in Christ’s resurrection.
A child who dies before baptism, or a stillborn or miscarried child may be given Catholic
Funeral Rites if the parents intended to have the child baptized. The remains of fetuses or stillborns should always receive reverent Christian burial if this is at all possible. These remains may be placed either in specific individual graves or in a common burial area.T
he Order for Christian Funerals provides a complete funeral liturgy for children who have died. The various texts for a baptized child or a child who died before baptism make these rites fully adaptable to various situations, and offer consolation for those suffering the extraordinary grief which comes with the death of a child.
There is no objection to Catholics making prior arrangements to donate their bodies or parts of them, after certain death, to advance medical science. Upon eventual disposition of the body or its parts, there should be reasonable assurance that the remains will be disposed of in a proper, reverential manner. The family of such a donor should be encouraged to celebrate a Mass as soon as possible after death. Whatever remains of the body after an organ transplant or medical research should be given appropriate burial. The rite of final committal with final commendation offers a model for concluding prayers for the donor and the donor’s family.