Burying the dead is one of the Corporal Works of Mercy, and celebrating one’s life and birth into eternal life is important in our faith. Although cremation is permissible, the Catholic Churches encourages families to have a funeral mass with the body of the deceased prior to cremation. More importantly cremains are to be entombed or buried in a formal crypt / graveyard and not left on a mantle or in a closet. Cremains of loved ones are not heirlooms to be passed down through the family. Cremains are not to be spread on the ground, water, etc. as it is fitting to have fixed, permanent and solemn location for memorial purposes.
Sacred Heart has trained people who carry out the ministry of meeting with the family to assist them with funeral service arrangements. This primarily includes selection of scripture readings and music and generally helping the family plan their participation in the liturgy of the funeral. There is no fee for use of the church for funerals, but stipends for the vocalist, accompanist and presider are customary and usually handled through the funeral director.
Although parlor services (funeral service without a mass performed in the funeral home) may be appropriate in some circumstances, the Church wishes to encourage families to have funeral masses in the Church for their loved ones. Even if the surviving family members are no longer connected with the Church we welcome them to be part of the parish family as we celebrate the lives of their loved ones.
The decline in the number of funeral masses and even parlor services is an indication that our culture struggles in dealing with mortality and grief. The Church alternatively believes that our faith helps in this time of sorrow and pain and is a healthy part of the grieving process.