What can be done to make sure you have a Catholic funeral ceremony for a split faith family?

I have a question that I would like to get some answers too.

My Aunt is a Catholic as well as her husband, they are up in age, and have no children because my Aunt could not have any.

My aunt is a faithful Catholic, even though she cannot read the bible (she didnt learn to read), she loves the Lord and is proudly Catholic and respects our Lady.

She raised two of moms sisters, and they (my other aunts) became protestants. They always tell my elderly aunt ‘where is ___ in the bible huh’ and the whole ‘statues idolatry’ card and say they will throw her statues out. (in a ‘jokingly’ way)

My Aunt wants to make sure she is burried with a Catholic ceremony, and is afraid my protestant aunts will want to bury her their way…she is really attached to some of the little statues she has. She can’t read so it’s really all she can reflect upon when she is not at mass. She wants to be buried with some of them too. :blush:

How can she make sure she is buried with a Catholic ceremony?

I am not a lawyer, so take my advice for what it’s worth.

First off, if your mom’s sisters truly loves your mom they will shut their mouths and honor her wishes when the time comes. It would be despicable otherwise.

For example, my mom passed away in March and she had a very beautiful Catholic funeral and burial. Every step in what was a painful process in speaking with the funeral director, the cemetary advisor, the priest was made with the idea of “this is what Mom would want”.

If your mom’s sisters can’t be trusted, then the next step might be to ask is who is the executor of her estate. If it’s a family member or a lawyer, it needs to be someone who she can trust to get done what she wants and not cave to the demands of less sympathetic family members.

She needs to put her wishes in writing, and leave them with as many people as she can trust - first of all, a lawyer; next, the priest of her home parish; then, three close family members, and as many close friends as she has. She should pass each person an envelope containing the text of her wishes to each person, and ask them to hold it in a safe place, to be opened when she passes away. (She can get either the lawyer or the priest to help her put it into writing.)

She should also appoint the lawyer to be the executor of her will - this is to ensure that that person will be notified immediately when she dies, and will put the plan into motion before any of the protestant relatives have a chance to move the body.

She should make her plan as detailed as possible, so that there is absolutely no question what her wishes are, and how to carry them out.

She should also consider all of the places that she goes - for example, what if she dies while on holidays? Do the people at the place where she goes on holidays know what her wishes are? They should be given copies of her wishes, as well. Or if she goes to an annual conference, those people should also be put into the loop as well, so that her wishes will be carried out even if she dies while traveling there.

The most loving way would be to simply tell her husband and sisters that she wants a Catholic funeral. Tell them it is really important to her, and that she hope they can respect her enough to follow through.

This being said, she can take steps, such as consulting with a lawyer to write this in her her last will and testament that she wishes a Catholic funeral. She could also purchase a burial plot at a Catholic ceremony for herself and husband. Some funeral homes even allow people to plan there funeral arrangements in advance, such as choosing a casket, which parish will provide the priest, etc… (obviously you can’t pick the date itself too far in advance!) This way, when her time arrives, the funeral home can take care of the arrangements, and the mixed family won’t feel put upon having to contact a priest.

Make all the arrangements and pay for everything now.

DON’T put it in the will - the will isn’t read until after the funeral, and after the estate has been transferred to the Executor. The funeral plan has to be put into play on the same day that she dies. (Which is why copies of the funeral plan have to be given to as many people as possible, so that whoever happens to be there at the time of death can put it into action straight away.)

Even if her wishes are put in writing, it’s difficult to enforce them. if her daughters refuse to give their mother a catholic funeral, you can and should have masses said for her and have her grave blessed (if possible).

IMO, the greater danger is that her daughters will turn away a priest who comes with the Viaticum and to administer the Anointing of the Sick (Last Rites).


It’s a lot more difficult to “tweak” the plan if all of her close friends and everyone who would be part of the planning knows her wishes and can refer to a written document.


Write it down, write it down, write it down.

Even families with the best intentions sometimes mess up “what Mom would have wanted.” If it isn’t written down, how else, in their grief can they make sure they do the right thing?

Add into that, personal beliefs and ideas and it is very easy to get pretty far away from “what Mom wanted.”

One can buy a plot in a Catholic Cemetery and plan and prepay your funeral at many funeral homes. It is difficult, and expensive, for survivors to reject something that is already paid for. It is an excellent idea if one has doubts about ones survivors following ones wishes.

She can always make her having a Catholic funeral mass and burial a condition of your relatives receiving any sort of inheritance or whatever else she leaves behind. And make sure they know it too, because, as someone else said, a will is not read until after a funeral, when it’s too late.

Well yes, but if the closest relatives are against the Catholic funeral and burial then it’s very difficult even with a written directive to enforce the decedent’s wishes. I went to court to get an order requiring a catholic burial when Catholic children went to court to prevent their mother from burying their father in a Protestant ceremony despite the clear instructions in his will that he be given a Catholic burial. As I predicted, the judge refused to issue an injunction ordering burial according to the father’s written wishes. The judge said that the burial is not for the deceased but for the survivors and therefore it’s up to the next of kin and not the dead person’s wishes. This was 17 years ago, but as I recall the law was pretty clear on this.

That’s why you can’t let it get that far - what happened in the case I’m thinking of is, as soon as the Executor was notified of the death by the attending doctor, she contacted everyone on the list - the funeral home, the caterer, the speakers, the pall bearers, and the musicians - and the funeral plans were well under way before the objecting parties had any time to call each other, let alone redirect the body somewhere else, or make alternate plans. :slight_smile:

None f that matters. If the next of kin wants a different service, that’s what it will be. In the USA at least, the law is quite clear on this. Do all that and you get stuck with a bill when the next of kin pulls the rug out from under your feet.

As I said above, the more important thing is getting a priest tothe person before death for the viaticum and last rites. The burial is far less important.

They aren’t “next of kin” - siblings aren’t “next of kin.” Parents, children, and spouses are next of kin.

If she has no next of kin, then the Executor makes the decisions. If the wishes for the funeral are in writing, and everyone has copies of it, then the chances of winning any kind of court case against the Executor would be nil, anyway. (Plus, if you fire the funeral home, then where are you going to stash the body while dragging through months and years of a court case? Are you going to stick it in your basement freezer? These are the practical issues to consider, when threatening to sue.)

She has a husband. But all this “going to court” and “pay everything in advance” or “going to a lawyer” is not as easy as it sounds.
They are not rich. And do not even speak any English. She has told them she wants her will be done. She has no kids.

If her husband knows her wishes and is willing to follow them, then there is no issue. The sisters will have no say in the matter.

Make her Family Priest the executor of her estate with all say in her burial. I’m not a lawyer but it seems correct to me.

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