The Parish Community of St Mary’s in Hexham extends its sympathy and support to you and your family at this time of loss. The death of someone you love is always very difficult. Expected or unexpected, it does not make any difference. We know, instinctively, that nothing will be the same again.
There are so many arrangements that need to be made too, not least, your loved one’s funeral. In the funeral liturgy we celebrate the life of faith of your loved one, we pray for them and for those of us who mourn their loss. We look for strength in God’s promise that he will never forget his own.
The first person to contact regarding arrangements for the funeral is your funeral director. He/she will liaise with all parties including the Parish to arrange the date for the funeral service, timings etc. Once a date and time has been arranged, Fr Christopher, Fr Peter or, if it is a funeral service, Deacon Martin will contact you to organise a meeting to plan the celebration.
The funeral liturgy can take two forms: The Requiem Mass (Funeral Mass) or a Funeral Service. The Church encourages the Celebration of the Mass for the Dead at funerals. However, while the Eucharist is our central act of worship, it is not always the best option for every funeral. To celebrate a funeral without Mass is also a valid form of Catholic worship. A funeral without Mass (Funeral Service) is also an option.
Additionally, a family may decide that they would like their deceased relative received into the Church on the eve of the funeral. The body is received during a short liturgy and may be followed by the recitation of the Rosary.
In every funeral liturgy the Church attaches great importance to the readings of the Word of God. “In this time of loss the family and community turn to God’s Word as a source of faith and hope, as light and life in the face of darkness and death” (Introduction to Rite of Funerals).
You may choose to have either one or two readings before the Gospel reading. A member of the family or friend may be asked to read. The Gospel, however, is always read by the priest celebrating the Mass or a deacon if present.
It is not appropriate to have a non-scriptural reading at this point in the liturgy for obvious reasons. There will, however, be an opportunity later in the liturgy.
There is a document attached to this section of our website outlining the various readings you can choose for your funeral. You can download this document here.
Making a tribute to the deceased person
The funeral liturgy provides the opportunity for something to be said about the deceased before the final commendation and farewell at the end of the Mass. This can often be quite an emotional moment both for the person speaking about the deceased and family and friends listening. We would suggest, therefore, that it be brief.
This is the appropriate time, too, for reading of a poem or reflection should the family wish.
Choosing music for the funeral
You are at liberty to choose the hymns for the Celebration. Of course, given the sacred nature of any funeral these must reflect our faith in the resurrection, this precludes secular music from funeral services in church. However, should the funeral be followed by Cremation, it is possible to have secular music following the Committal.
All music in St. Mary’s must be live and recorded music is not permitted. Our Director of Music or one of our organists can be engaged to play at your funeral. Also, we are in the fortunate position that some of our choir members can come along to support singing at funerals.