Planning Funerals


I can remember when I was a child that some adults who usually did not receive Communion at mass made a point of going to Confession and Communion during the Easter time so they could have a Catholic Burial. People said you had to or you could not be buried in the Catholic Cemetery.

About thirty years ago my husband and I bought burial plots in a Catholic Cemetery. I agreed to have the salesperson come out partly because it would definitely call attention to my being Catholic and cause a Catholic funeral to be arranged. My husband is not Catholic.

I don’t think my husband would ever get in a mode of planning his funeral. He was active in a Methodist church as a kid. I think he is sort of an agnostic now. It is not possible to get him to talk about stuff like that or to plan a funeral either I don’t think.

My husband was recently real sick and I realized that I really do not know what I would do about a funeral. I know that he said he wanted a simple one like his Dad’s which was planned and paid for. He had talked about exchanging the cemetery plots for less expensive ones at the time we bought them. He has talked about being cremated but our youngest daughter was upset when he grandmother was cremated so I think I won’t.

For some reason I have been of the understanding that a Catholic priest or deacon could give a little homily for a non Catholic spouse as part of a short ceremony at the funeral home. I would use on closer to where we live instead of the Catholic one.

I hesitate to talk to anybody about locally with folks who know me or him. I do not feel he would like my doing that. I would like general information about what families do in this kind of a case.

Also what about family members who don’t go to church anymore. If they are not in full communion because of a marriage I suppose that is a different case from some young person who has strayed from the faith for the moment.


I think you should talk to your priest about this, he would be the best to advise you. Non-Catholic spouses of Catholics have been buried from the Catholic Church with simply a funeral liturgy, no Mass, if that was the wish of the family. He might be willing to celebrate that same liturgy from the funeral home. All you can do is ask. I know our Bishop celebrated a funeral Mass for one of our parish members at the local Pentecostal Church because that was the biggest church in town and would accommodate most of the mourners.

Having simply the funeral liturgy and no Mass takes care of the problem you might have with people who have become estranged from the church. With no Mass there is no worry about having people go to communion who shouldn’t. Anyone can come and listen to the Word of God, no matter what their personal relationship with the Church may be.


Father Joseph Champlin, who wrote that timeless marriage prep tome, Together For Life, also wrote Through Death To Life. If you can manage to get either one of these, it explains the three rites of the funeral, and how these can be separated, used at differeent times, who may have Catholic rites (you’d be surprised- just about anybody!), etc.


My husband worked with a bunch of real religious individuals who he considered to be fundamentalists who were out to convert him. They changed churches a lot trying to find one that they agreed with. They must have got estranged from all of them. I think that because I remember conversations at their funerals about rules that were being enforced about which protestant denomination got to do the funeral. It was the church they were raised in. I think the same rule might have been followed about my husband’s father. The funeral home found the preacher and I believe they picked a Lutheran because that was his childhood faith.


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