Why wouldn't a priest officiate at my mother's funeral?

My mother was baptized Catholic many years ago. She also had her first Communion, her confirmation. She was married in the Catholic Church. My younger brother was buried by the Catholic Church. All of us children were baptized Catholic, we had our first Communion and confirmation. We attended church every week with my parents. My mother was a member of the Alter and Rosary Society and my Dad was a Grand Knight. Our entire life revolved around the Catholic Church.

The last eight years of my mother’s life were hard. My father was gone and my mother’s health had failed to the point she could no longer drive. The family member that took care of her did not attend Mass so my mother never went unless I was in town and I would take her. Almost twelve years ago, my mom died. I called the priest at the church where I had taken her to Mass, and I was told by the priest that he would not do her funeral because she was no longer an active, participating member of the Church. I had to find a minister from an Assemblies of God church to do her funeral.

I am still so upset about this and wonder what your thought is about it. I have quit going to church because of this.

I am very sorry that you were unable to arrange for a funeral Mass for your mother, and I sympathize with your hurt and anger that the priest seemed so uncaring about your mother’s death. It may be that he was overextended in his obligations, but he should have assisted you in finding another qualified person to officiate at your mother’s funeral. Even if a priest could not be found to celebrate a funeral Mass, a deacon or designated layperson could have led a funeral liturgy outside of Mass. Had you thought to do so at the time, it would have been appropriate to report this priest to his bishop for his callous lack of support.

There are still things you can do now to address this. You can arrange to have memorial Masses offered for the repose of your mother’s soul (please see the link below for more information). You can also strive to forgive this priest and to not allow his actions to keep you from going back to Mass and the sacraments. I urge you to find another parish and find a priest you can talk to about your grief and anger. It may take some effort on your part, but perhaps your parents have been interceding for you to return to your faith—and perhaps that is why you have been remembering the situation and posed your question here.

**Recommended reading:

The Care and Feeding of Poor Souls** by Michelle Arnold

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