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June 2012

The Mass of Christian Burial
by Charlie Garefino

Since 1984 the Garefino Funeral Home has been serving the parish of St. John the Evangelist. I hope the following information is helpful. Should you have any questions about the Mass of Christian Burial or any other types of funeral service please feel free to contact us at 609-397-2763 or (

The Rites of the Church All Catholics that are baptized are entitled to the full Rite of Christian Burial. You and your family will experience the Rite of Christian Burial in three distinct and important parts.

The Wake Service: This will take place during the visiting hours at the funeral home. A member of the Parish Staff will lead this service of prayer and Scripture. At this time someone from the family, or a friend, may wish to remember the deceased by sharing personal memories, as in a eulogy. If there is not a public viewing the wake service will not be held.

The Funeral Liturgy: This is the most important part of the celebration of the Mass of Christian Burial. The bodily remains or cremated remains are honored by being brought into Church. We celebrate the life of the deceased in the whole context of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. A portion of the Funeral Liturgy may also be celebrated at the funeral home, but that is different that a Mass of Christian Burial.

The Committal: A parish priest or deacon will accompany the remains and the family to the cemetery, where the Rite of Christian Burial will conclude with the prayers of Committal and Final Commendation. Should one wish to speak in memory of the deceased, as in a eulogy or a remembrance, the Funeral Rite allows for such to usually take place as part of the Prayer of Commendation that will be prayed at the cemetery.

The Time and Place of the Funeral Liturgy: A funeral may be celebrated on any day of the week except Sundays and Holy Days. There are also some restrictions concerning funerals during Holy Week. Planning the Funeral Liturgy The funeral liturgy is one of the most beautiful and meaningful celebrations of the Church. Your family has the option of personalizing the Mass by choosing the Scripture readings and by requesting specific hymns. When choosing scriptures, there should be one reading from the Old Testament, and one reading from the New Testament. Our funeral home has those reading available to you to choose from.

A family member is also welcome to read the selections from the Old and New Testament. A reading from the Old Testament A reading from the New Testament Gospel reading is selected by the priest.

Music The Music Ministry is under the direction of the church’s music director. Our funeral home has a list of accepted hymns that are appropriate for the Mass of Christian Burial. When the time comes to arrange a funeral mass, we can place you in touch with the music director should you have any particular questions pertaining to the music for the mass.

Gifts at the Offertory There can be as many as three gifts brought up to the priest at the time of the offertory. Sometimes families select close relatives (i.e. children or grandchildren) or friends to bring the gifts up to the altar at the appropriate time to make the Mass more personal. One of our funeral home staff will let those people know when they will be needed for the offertory.

Parish Cemetery At the present time there are no longer new cemetery plots available in our parish cemetery. There are a number of other cemeteries in the area to select from of which we have a list of their contact names and phone numbers.

Eulogy: In recent years it has become customary for many families to offer a eulogy at a Mass of Christian Burial. This varies from parish to parish and often is a source of confusion and frustration for many. The policy of the Diocese of Metuchen is that: Eulogies are not to be read at the church during the Mass of Christian Burial. Such eulogies should be delivered at the burial site/funeral home or at the repast/luncheon.

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