The Church encourages Catholics to have a funeral Mass, also known as a “Mass of Christian Burial” because it includes Holy Communion. It therefore has at its heart the commemoration of Christ’s death and resurrection. The family of the deceased are encouraged to take part in the planning and participation in the funeral Mass. 

Your personal meeting with the bereavement minister will guide and support you in all aspects of this planning process. You may feel comfortable reviewing the components of the Planning Guide, the Scripture readings, and the music selections prior to your meeting. Be reassured that the bereavement minister will be happy to guide you in this.

There are a variety of ways that you and your family/friends may be involved in the Funeral Liturgy. Many times, family or friends feel honored to be able to be part of the service. However, if you and your family are not emotionally comfortable in these roles, the bereavement minister will be glad to contact church members who can assist.

Pall Bearers

A pallbearer is someone who helps carry the casket into the venue where the funeral is being held. Usually, the pallbearers will carry the casket from the hearse into the church and again to the hearse at the end of Mass.
They will also assist in bringing the casket from the hearse at the burial site. There may be six to eight pallbearers.

The funeral director will give instructions to the pall bearers for their role.
  • Pall bearers may sit as a group or with their family during Mass.
  • If cremated remains are brought to the Funeral Mass, they must be in a suitable container (urn) and may be carried in by a family member or the funeral director. 
  • The urn may also be presented on a table prepared for the purpose and placed in front of the altar with a picture of the deceased if desired.


The family may select family or friends who are practicing Catholics to read the first and second Scripture readings and the Prayers of the Faithful.

The bereavement minister will provide a copy of the selected readings for you to give to the person you have chosen to read the Scriptures.
A copy of the readings will also be in a binder on the ambo at the funeral Mass.

If you do not have family/friends who are comfortable reading at Mass, the bereavement minister will contact parish members to assist.


Each parish has adult servers to assist at funeral Masses. Family members or friends who currently serve at their home parishes may assist at a funeral Mass. This should be discussed with the pastor. They would need to arrive at the church 30 minutes before the funeral so the priest can give them instructions.

Offertory Gifts

Following the Prayers of the Faithful, the presentation of the offertory gifts of bread and wine mark the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist during the Mass. At least two family/friends are needed to present the gifts from the back of church to the priest at the altar. 

Additional family or friends may participate in the presentation of gifts by bringing forth roses/flowers. Talk to the bereavement minister about this option so that the appropriate number of flowers are available for this.

Placing Of The Pall

At the entrance of the church, the white pall is draped over the coffin prior to the procession into church. This pall reminds us of the garment given at baptism and, therefore, symbolizes our life in Christ. It is customary for the immediate family to place the pall on the casket (spouse, children, etc). The funeral director will provide instructions for those who will place the pall.
The priest will say the opening prayers and bless the body before the pall is placed on the casket.

  • If cremated remains are at the Mass, the priest will say the opening prayers and bless the urn at the front of the church. A pall is not placed on the urn.
  • If the deceased was in the military, the white pall will be replaced with a flag before going to the cemetery.

Extraordinary Ministers Of Holy Communion

Practicing Catholics who are currently Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion in their home parish may distribute communion during the Funeral Mass depending on the anticipated number of people who will be attending the funeral.

Outside Priests, Organist or Soloist

Family members or friends who are priests, organists, or soloists may participate in the funeral Mass. Please discuss this possibility with the bereavement minister.
  • The home pastor must be notified and approve any priest who will be celebrating the Mass or presenting the homily.
  • The parish organist and choir will be assigned to the Funeral Liturgy unless otherwise notified.

Words Of Remembrance/Eulogy

Eulogies or words of remembrance are not offered during the funeral Mass. They should be offered during the visitation, at the graveside, or at a gathering following the service (i.e., at the luncheon). Discuss these options with the
bereavement minister.