Funerals at Sacred Heart

As Catholics, we are comforted by hope in the eternal life offered to us in Christ Jesus. Through faith, we believe that, in death, “life is changed, not ended” (words from the Funeral Mass).

The funeral rites of the Catholic Church serve two main purposes. They are firstly opportunities for us to pray for our deceased loved ones. The Church through its funeral rites commends our beloved dead to God's merciful love and pleads for the forgiveness of sins. The second purpose of the funeral rites is to support us as we mourn. The Church’s funeral liturgies employ a rich language and symbolism, to help us to pray, give thanks and grieve, where ordinary words fail.

Step One | Get in Contact

A good first step is to contact the Parish Priest or Parish Office to arrange a meeting with a priest and to book the church. Our staff understand that this is a difficult time and will do their best to make the planning process as simple as possible. You will also need to engage a Funeral Director. We will work together with the Director to provide a prayerful funeral for your loved one.

Step Two | Requiem Mass or Funeral Prayer Service

There are two main funeral rites available following the death of a member of the Catholic Church. You may choose a Requiem Mass or Funeral Prayer Service.

For those who practice their faith, it is common for the funeral to be a Requiem (Funeral) Mass. The Mass is the greatest prayer of the Church because it makes present Christ’s own death and resurrection, by which we are able to access eternal life. It is also possible to have a Funeral Prayer Service, which includes readings from Scripture but does not include a Mass with Holy Communion. This form of funeral may be appropriate if many people attending the funeral are not Catholic or if they are unfamiliar with the Church’s liturgy. In preparing the Requiem Mass or Funeral Service with the priest, you will be able to select from a variety of readings from Sacred Scripture, prayers and hymns that speak to the situation of the bereaved, and that reflect our great hope in the resurrection. Please note that these readings and hymns and any other music are subject to the approval of the parish church.

Rite of Committal

The final part of the funeral is the Rite of Committal. This takes place at the grave, tomb or crematorium, where the priest leads the prayers and blesses the place of burial or internment. If cremation occurs privately, the priest may lead the prayers of Committal at the hearse before it leaves the church.

Important Note: Liturgical Norms

Catholic funerals, whether they take the form of the Requiem Mass or Funeral Prayer Service, follow set guidelines stipulated by the Pope and bishops. These guidelines are designed to support the mourners but also to ensure that the funeral is conducted prayerfully and with the necessary dignity and solemnity. The instructions below will assist any planning:

Step Three | Select the Readings and Prayers of the Faithful

Catholic funerals – whether a Requiem Mass or Prayer Service – always include readings from Sacred Scripture. Scripture is one of the principal ways God continues to speak to us. At the funeral, in particular, God speaks words of encouragement, consolation and love into our grief and loss. The Funeral Mass and Service include a First Reading, Responsorial Psalm, Second Reading (optional), and Gospel. In addition, the Mass or Service will feature Prayers of the Faithful which are a series of short prayers for the deceased and their family. It is good to think about who you might ask to do these readings. It can be one or two people, and the prayers of the faithful can also be done by one or two people. We provide the following compilations of Scripture readings and Prayers of the Faithful from which you can make selections:

First Reading

Responsorial Psalm

Second Reading (optional)

Gospel Reading

Prayers of the Faithful

Step Four | Decide on Music

Music has an important place in Catholic funerals. Hymns and song help to communicate the deep spiritual realities occurring and support our mourning. Thus, music that features in Catholic funerals must be “sacred,” that is, composed specifically for use in the Church’s liturgical worship of God. While this means certain popular styles of music are not appropriate, there is nevertheless a great variety of beautiful and familiar music that may be chosen. Our beloved dead's favourite music can be played after the burial at the place where mourners gather for refreshments.

Music at Catholic funerals ought be performed live rather than recorded. Our parish calls in experienced organists and vocalists who can play at your loved-one’s funeral. The fees for our organist and vocalist are $300 each. To book their services, speak to your priest celebrant or the parish office. Outside musicians will set their own fees.

In choosing the music for a funeral, it is important to consult with the priest celebrant who must approve any music selected. He can guide you through your choices and explain unfamiliar aspects. At a Requiem (Funeral) Mass, you will need to select four hymns – one for the Entrance, Offertory, Communion and Recessional. At a Funeral Service, you will need to select two hymns – one for the Entrance and one for the Recessional. Here are a few suitable ideas (most can be found on youtube).

Abide with me, Amazing Grace, Be not afraid, Here I am, Lord, On Eagle’s Wings, Be still my soul, Do not be afraid, I heard the voice of Jesus, Jesu, joy of man’s desiring, Pie Jesu, Ave Maria, I am the Bread of Life, Jesus, my Lord, my God, Nearer, my God, to Thee, The Lord is my shepherd (Crimmond), Panis Angelicus, Ave verum corpus, Go silent friend, How great Thou art, Irish blessing,

Step Five | Words of Remembrance and Audiovisual Reflection

At a Catholic funeral, the focus is the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ our Lord for the sake of the beloved dead. The funeral rites are therefore firstly about praying for the deaceased. Of course we must celebrate and give thanks for our loved ones who have died, and so a celebration of their life should follow after the funeral. The priest celebrant will introduce the story of the deceased, and any extended reflections on their life are best presented during refreshments following the funeral.

Even so, the Church does allow for a few words of remembrance for the good of those assembled. This is a brief remembrance (5-10 minutes or 500-1000 words) honouring the life of the deceased, offered by one person. The Words of Remembrance should occur first, with the Requiem Mass or Prayer Service following or at the end before the final Prayer of Commendation. You are asked to submit the Words of Remembrance to the priest celebrant prior to the day of the funeral for his approval. This is to ensure that the words of remembrance are respectful and appropriate to both the deceased and to worship in God's house.

It is also a custom for families to prepare an audiovisual reflection on the life of the deceased. As with eulogies, the Church does not envision such reflections being part of a Catholic funeral. They are presented typically at the gathering after the funeral. On certain occasions they are shown at the end of the funeral. In this case, the audiovisual reflection can only run for the length of one piece of music (approx. 5 minutes), and if it is not religious, the music must be subject to the approval of the parish priest to ensure it is appropriate for a Catholic funeral.

Step Six | Booklets

You may choose to provide booklets for the funeral of your deceased loved one as a means to helping those attending enter more deeply into the funeral liturgy. Booklets can be particularly useful if some of your guests are unfamiliar with Catholic worship. Before printing the booklet, you must send a final draft to the priest for his proofing. He knows the structure of the funeral well and will make sure your booklet is accurate.

Click here to download a booklet template for a funeral requiem Mass. You can simply edit the details on the front cover and throughout.

Click here to download a booklet template for a funeral service. You can simply edit the details on the front cover and throughout.

Please Note: It is common today to refer to funerals as ‘Celebrations of Life’. The Archbishop of Melbourne clarified in 2010 that this designation is not appropriate for Catholic funerals, as it does not adequately reflect the fact that a Catholic funeral is a form of worship and prayer for the deceased. Please ensure that any printed or digital material refers to the funeral as “Requiem Mass for the Eternal Repose of the Soul of [name]…” or “Funeral Mass for the Eternal Repose of …” or “Funeral Prayer or service for the Eternal Repose of …”. Also, "Born to Eternal Life" is not appropriate.

Step Seven | Suggested Contribution to the priest and parish

Our parish follows the guidelines of the Archdiocese of Melbourne with regards to a suggested contribution to the priest celebrant and to the particular church parish where the funeral occurs. Those amounts are listed below. For further details about the recommended donation amounts, or for any queries or concerns you may have, please do not hesitate to contact the Parish Office or the priest celebrant. Your funeral director will also be able to guide you in this area.

$300 | Requiem Mass or Funeral Service (for the priest's services) $150 | Cemetery Attendance for Burial or Cremation $300 | For the use of the church