Funerals at St. Michael's - St. Michael Catholic Church

FUNERAL MASSES AT ST. Michael Catholic Church

These guidelines are to assist you in the planning of the funeral during your time of sadness.   You may download these guidelines HERE.


St. Michael’s Coordinator for Funerals is Gwen Coffey. For  Spanish Funerals Alexis Zamora and Silvia Vega.

Their contact information is, (901) 412-7399, (901) 428-3559, (901) 323-0896

and will again be provided below.  


They will be assisting you through this process and will be your first point of contact after you have chosen your funeral home. Gwen and Silvia will be your liaisons for any and all needs you have during the funeral process.  


The Church’s funeral liturgies are to bring comfort and peace to the family as we commend our beloved dead to God’s loving embrace. 

Normally there are three parts to the Catholic Rite of Funerals:


I. The Vigil for the Deceased takes place the evening before the Funeral Mass and is within the context of the visitation at the funeral home (chapel). However, it can also take place in the parish church. The Vigil consists of Scripture readings and prayers pertaining to the mystery of death and resurrection. The Rosary (a decade) may be included within the Vigil Service. Eulogies are appropriate at the Vigil Service.


II. The Funeral Mass takes place in the parish church. Family members or friends may choose to place the Pall on the casket and also bring forth the gifts of bread and wine in the Offertory Procession. Adult family and adult friends are also invited to be a part of the Liturgy of the Word. 


III. The Rite of Committal/Burial.

For pastoral reasons an abbreviated form of the Catholic Rite of Funerals may take place at the cemetery. Some families, for whatever reason, may simply choose the Rite of Committal/Burial in place of the 3 part Catholic Rite of Funerals.


If a “graveside ceremony” is chosen as the committal burial service, it would include readings from the Scriptures, a brief reflection and a possible eulogy.


The Funeral Mass, however, is celebrated only in the parish church.


In recent years, the Catholic Church has allowed a relative or close friend of the deceased to offer a brief reflection/eulogy. If this is the desire of the family.


This reflection/eulogy should be prepared beforehand in written form lasting between one and three minutes and keeping reflections within the context of a religious service. It is not a time for comments or jokes that may be embarrassing to members of the family or those present.

Again, know that your parish family, as well as the local community, is praying for you and your loved one at this time of loss.




The Liturgical Color for the funeral is chosen to express Christian hope; often the color is white.


The Paschal (Easter) Candle is placed at the foot of the casket to symbolize the Risen Christ and to signify that the deceased shares in Jesus’ victory over death. It recalls the Easter Vigil when we await the Lord’s resurrection and new light for the living and dead is kindled.


The Pall is placed over the coffin prior to the entrance procession. It is a reminder of the baptismal garment and all it signifies. The use of a similar pall for all in the community also signifies our equality in the eyes of Christ. This may be done by a family member(s) during the funeral Mass.


Holy Water is sprinkled on the casket to symbolize baptism into new life. It also reaffirms our faith in eternal life.


Incense is used during the Funeral Rite as a sign of honor to the physical person of the deceased, which through baptism became the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Incense also is used as a sign of the community’s prayers for the deceased rising to the throne of God and as a sign of farewell.




You will receive a book from the Coordination Team which includes the entire funeral rite. It also includes many, many scripture readings from the Old Testament, Responsorial Psalms, Alleluia Responses, New Testament and Gospel. 


Also several choices are given for the Prayers of the Faithful. This book is to assist you, the family, primarily for planning the funeral rituals but also and perhaps more importantly for you to find solace and comfort from the Word of God.


The readings that you select for the Funeral Liturgy should be chosen because of how the scripture speaks to your heart at this time of loss and grief but also of hope and of the resurrection of the body. Yes, there are many readings to choose from, but it is in the process of selecting that the Word of God may come to life and speak to you and your family in this moment of sadness.


Only adults should be considered for this role of lector (reader) of the sacred scripture.




You are asked to select one Old Testament reading, one New Testament reading, and one Gospel reading. During the Lenten season, there is no alleluia response. During the Easter season, there is no Old Testament reading but rather two readings from the New Testament. If the family chooses, a priest or deacon might select the Gospel.




The actual ceremony for the Vigil of the Deceased has selected two scripture readings for the service, however it is strongly suggested that the family choose their own scripture readings even for the Vigil service. One would need to choose a New Testament and a Gospel for the Vigil service. The reason for the family choosing the scripture readings for the Vigil service is that often times it is hard to pick just one reading for the Funeral Mass so the opportunity is given to the family to use other scripture readings at the Vigil of the Deceased.




If a family chooses, for pastoral reasons, to have only a Graveside Service the family would be invited to select the scripture readings. Normally, a New Testament reading and a Gospel is appropriate. 

A short eulogy by one family member might be included in the Graveside Service.




Until 1963, the Catholic Church not only preferred burial of the body in a tomb, but actually prohibited cremation. That prohibition was in response to a prevailing attitude connected with cremation which denied the resurrection of the dead and the immortality of the soul.


Today’s changing economic, geographic, ecological and family factors have led the Church to shift its position. The Catholic Church, while still preferring burial in a tomb, now permits cremation “in case of necessity” as it is not chosen as a denial of Christian teaching of the resurrection of the Body.


The Church prefers burial of the body in the ground or in a tomb for these reasons: It imitates the example of Christ’s burial. It emphasizes the dignity and respect for the human body. It strengthens our faith in our own personal resurrection. It counters the current cultural popularity and acceptance of the belief of reincarnation, a belief the Catholic Church does not accept as truth. It provides a foretaste of the spiritual transformation that takes place after death; and it helps facilitate the grieving process for the family.


“The Catholic Church honors the mortal remains of all the deceased. In Baptism, the body became “a Temple of the Holy Spirit”. For this reason, Church law requires an appropriate Christian burial that honors the body of the deceased. While the burial of the body is the preferred custom and tradition of the Catholic Church, cremation is now allowed. When cremation is chosen, it is expected that either the body or the ashes of cremation will be present during the Funeral Rites of the Church.”


The following options are possible:


1. The body in the cremation casket is present for the Vigil for the Deceased and for the Funeral Mass. After the Funeral Mass the body is cremated and the ashes are interred at the cemetery or columbary at a convenient time.


2. The cremation of the deceased may take place prior to the Vigil for the Deceased. The remains must be placed in a suitable urn or container and should be present at the Vigil for the Deceased as well as at the Funeral Liturgy. The Rite of Committal takes place at the cemetery where the ashes are interred in the ground or a columbary.


3. Church law requires that the human remains of cremation be given a proper Christian burial or entombment. Church law does not permit the ashes to be taken home or to be discarded by scattering in other places.




Because a funeral is an official ritual (ceremony) of the Roman Catholic Church, guidelines for music for the Liturgy are to be followed. Music is to follow the liturgical norms for Catholic Liturgy and should be appropriately selected so that singing can be shared by all in attendance.


Each piece of music in a Funeral Mass has a specific liturgical purpose, and so the music selected for those places must fulfill that purpose; for example: Responsorial Psalm, Alleluia Response, The Great Amen.


If the family has special requests for favorite songs or sacred hymns that do not fall into a liturgical category, those requests in most cases can be accommodated at the funeral home, apart from the funeral Mass. 


Examples of this type of request would include all secular (non-religious) songs, as well as all recorded music.


All hymn selections and musicians must be approved by Silvia Vega, the Director of Music and the coordinator will again assist you with this connection. 


If there is any question about the appropriateness of a hymn or piece of music, the final determination will be made by the Pastor.


During a Funeral Mass, three or four hymns may be selected:


1) Processional (Entrance) hymn


2) Offertory Hymn


3) a Communion hymn, a solo, or a sung refrain from an appropriate Eucharistic hymn


4) a Song of Farewell (sung before the Final Commendation)


5) Recessional hymn


Please take note: 


Accompanist – The parish accompanist is the chosen accompanist for all parish events. If she is unavailable, a substitute accompanist will be approved by either the pastor or the parish organist.


Cantor – It is preferred that Silvia Vega be used for liturgical ceremonies but if she is unavailable or for pastoral reasons other options may be discussed with the pastor.


Professional Musicians/Soloists – Professional musicians (instruments) and soloists may be used during the Funeral Mass at the Offertory Rite or Communion Rite, when approved by the Pastor or Parish Music Director.





Any hymn selection that is requested and has been approved by the Pastor but is not in the hymnal may be used under the following circumstances:


1. It may be used as a solo at the Offertory or at Communion if legal copies (not photocopies) are available for the organist and the soloist. This requires no reprint permission.


2. If you wish to use a hymn not in the hymnal, it will be necessary to get reprint permission from the owner of the copyright so that you can provide the words or the words and music for the congregation to sing. 

The coordination team will assist you in securing the reprint permission. 


Most publishers have a policy that allows for a one-time reprint, which covers funerals, for a $25 fee.


Please take note: Under no circumstance can either the music or the words to a copyrighted hymn be printed in a program or on a song sheet without legal reprint permission. By printing without reprint permission, you are doing so in direct violation of copyright laws and makes the church, through its participation liable.




Fees for the accompanist will be determined during your meeting with our team.  Fees are dependent upon the families wishes, but will normally range from $150-$200.


Fees for the cantor will be determined as well during your meeting with the coordinator.  Fees again are dependent upon the families wishes, but will normally range from $150-$200.


There is no fee for a parish family in the use of the church for a funeral liturgy. 


A family or individuals may wish to give a memorial gift to St. Michael’s in the name of the deceased family member.  Our coordinator can assist you with this if this is something you wish to consider.


There is no remuneration or fee for the priest/deacon or altar servers for services during. If you choose to do this,  please place in an envelope that is labeled with the priests name and give to the coordinator.  She will ensure the priests receives this gift from the family.




It is a tradition of the Church that a Mass or Masses are celebrated for the deceased. These Mass Intentions are always scheduled with the front desk.  But during this time, Gwen will be your liaison for all of your needs.  If requested, a Mass card may be sent to the family of the deceased. The stipend for a Memorial Mass according to Parish Policy is minimal $10.



A particular tradition for Masses for the deceased is to request a Mass to be said every month on the numerical date of the person’s death.



Customarily some families prefer to have an Anniversary Mass said on the date of death rather than placing flowers at the cemetery.

 Reminder: All Mass requests during this time will be handled by the coordinating team.  If after the funeral you wish to have a Mass said, the requests are handled by the front desk. 


Mass requests are to be printed or typed. Normally one makes these requests three to six months prior to the date of request. If a particular date requested is already reserved by another family, there are two options:


1. Another date is selected.


2.   The request will be sent to a religious or missionary priest.



Some families or individuals may choose to make a donation in the name of the deceased person or family member. 

This memorial gift could be for a particular item (i.e., vestments, altar candlesticks, altar cloths, church building fund, etc.). 

Acknowledgements of all memorial gifts are sent by St. Michael’s to the family of the deceased as well as the donor of the memorial gift.




Gwen, (901) 412-7399

Silvia (901) 428-3559

Alexis (901) 323-0896




God, our creator and redeemer,

by your power Christ conquered death

and returned to you in glory.

May all your people who have gone

before us in faith

share his victory

and enjoy the vision of your glory


where Christ lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, forever and ever.


Eternal rest grant unto him/her, O Lord.

And let perpetual light shine upon him/her.


May his/her soul and the souls of all the

faithful departed, through the mercy of God,

rest in peace.