Purpose: In the face of death, the Church confidently proclaims that God has created each person for eternal life and that Jesus, the Son of God, by his death and resurrection, has broken the chains of sin and death that bound humanity. This saving mystery is at the center of the Church’s life. (Order of Christian Funerals)
The death of a deacon is a significant event in the life of his family, his friends, his parish, and his local Church. By virtue of his service as an ordained minister of the Church, the death of a deacon includes a public, as well as an individual dimension, and his death becomes of great concern to the Archdiocese and to the deacon community. It is the earnest desire of the Deacon Life and Ministry Board to provide compassionate presence and practical support to those who suffer the loss of a deceased deacon.
The death of the wife or widow or close family member of a deacon is also of great concern to the deacon community. The communication process described below is also to be followed when receiving notice of the death of a deacon’s wife or close family member.
Interaction with Family: The guidelines which follow are designed to help the Archdiocese and its deacon community respect and honor the memory of one of its good and faithful servants while making available assistance and support to the family of the deacon who has died. Family wishes will always have the highest priority in the preparation and execution of funeral arrangements. Respect and sensitivity to the family’s wishes guide the coordination of funeral planning.
Preliminary Instructions: All deacons should prepare and maintain current funeral and burial instructions, using the form provided by the Office of the Diaconate, which will keep the form on file. (see below) Copies of this form may also be given to the next of kin, a funeral director, and/or a personal representative.
With paramount regard for the privacy of the deacon and his family, the deacon is encouraged to notify the Office of the Diaconate of serious illness so that the deacon community may be encouraged to pray for the deacon [or his spouse or family member].
2.1 Initial Notification: As soon as possible following the deacon’s death, a family member should notify the deacon’s pastor, if any.The pastor or another appropriate person should notify the Division of Clergy Personnel. If the deacon is not associated with a particular parish, the family should contact the Division of Clergy Personnel. The Director of Clergy Personnel or his designee shall then notify the Archbishop, the vicar bishops or delegate, the Chancellor, and the Chair of the Deacon Personnel Board.
In the initial conversation with the family member, the Director or his designee will offer the assistance of the Office and the Board in preparing, coordinating, and communicating funeral-related plans. This includes reviewing and confirming information shown in the “Funeral and Burial Instructions Form” kept on file in the Office, if any.
Contact with the Deceased Deacon’s Family: When the initial conversation occurs between the deacon’s family and the Director or his designee, the family will be advised that a representative of the Deacon Life and Ministry Board will be in touch to offer support and assistance.
Generally, the Chair, the Vice-Chair, or another member of the Deacon Life and Ministry Board will make this contact. The purpose of this contact is to extend sympathy to the family on behalf of the deacon community and to offer assistance in preparing arrangements for the vigil service and funeral Mass. Sensitivity to the family’s sorrow and respect for their grief should be of great concern, taking care to avoid becoming intrusive of their personal needs and desires.
Communication to Deacon Community: Once the funeral arrangements have been finalized, the Division of Clergy Personnel will communicate the pertinent information to the deacon community by email and other appropriate means.
The Division of Clergy Personnel will also notify The Catholic Review of the pertinent information for publication in print or on its website.
Plans & Arrangements: The planning and final arrangements for a deacon’s funeral are the privilege and responsibility of the deacon and his family. Representatives of the Office of the Diaconate and the Deacon Life and Ministry Board are available to consult with the family and offer assistance for facilitating and coordinating the funeral arrangements. While the Office and Board may offer suggestions and ideas for consideration, the wishes of the family will always take precedence.
The pastor of the church where the funeral will take place exercises the primary responsibility for coordinating funeral plans with the family. Deacon representatives should communicate with the pastor before taking any action with regard to the funeral. A mutual and cooperative approach between family, pastor, and the deacon community will help to ensure that clarity is increased and that confusion misunderstandings are avoided.
Funeral arrangements for a deacon’s spouse [or other close family member] are also the responsibility of the deacon and/or his family. The deacon community wishes to offer its assistance and help at these times as well.
Attire: A deacon may be dressed for burial in either secular clothing or in liturgical vesture. The deacon may indicate his preference in his Instructions Form. If not, the family makes this choice.
If dressed in secular clothing, a stole may be placed on or near the casket, along with other appropriate Christian symbols such as the Book of the Gospels or a crucifix. As the stole is a liturgical vestment, it is not worn over secular clothing.
If the deacon is to be dressed in liturgical vesture, his alb and white stole are to be used. If he wishes, the deacon may also be vested in his dalmatic.
The Vigil Service: While the Vigil Service for most deacons occurs in a funeral home, arrangements may also be made for the deacon to lie in state in the church, with the Vigil Service taking place there.
It is most fitting that a deacon be invited to preside at the Vigil Service, and that deacons also participate in other ways such as proclaiming Scripture Readings, offering Intercessions, etc. If the Vigil Service occurs in a church, it may be appropriate for the deacon presiding at the service to wear liturgical vestments. Clerical attire is the customary attire for a deacon presiding at a Vigil Service taking place in a funeral home, but alb and stole is also customary.
Deacons are encouraged to attend the Vigil Service with their wives and be seated together as one body.
The Funeral Mass: The presider of the Mass of Christian Burial would be either the Archbishop, a vicar bishop, the pastor of the parish, or another priest requested by the family. Priests will be invited and encouraged to concelebrate, and deacons will be invited and encouraged to vest and be seated together. The deacon may indicate on his Instructions Form who he requests to serve as the homilist. If no such indication has been made, the pastor will consult with the family.
It is also encouraged that two deacons assist in the sanctuary, one as Deacon of the Word and the other as Deacon of the Eucharist.
Note that the casket of the deacon is to be placed with the head closest to the sanctuary, reflecting the custom of placing the deceased in the midst of the worshipping assembly in death in the same posture which they assumed in life.
The general liturgical norms are to be followed. It is encouraged that the presidential prayers in the Roman Missal designated for deacons be used. If the deacon has not already indicated on his Instructions Form specific choices for Scripture Readings, Music, and persons to exercise roles in the liturgy, the family should be encouraged to offer their suggestions. Unless instructed otherwise at the request of the deceased deacon’s family, deacons attending the funeral Mass are welcome to vest and be seated together at the liturgy. The Office is available to serve as a resource for the funeral planning.
The Graveside Service: The prayer at the grave may be led by a deacon, with other deacons assisting with other elements, if this reflects the wishes of the family.
Post-Funeral Follow-Up: Some time after the funeral events have taken place, the Chair of the Deacon Life and Ministry Board will ensure that some supportive contact is offered to the deceased deacon’s spouse/family as sign of the deacon community’s continuing care and concern for the healing of their sadness and loss.
|The following information concerning funeral and burial instructions reflects my preferences and desires with regard to the actions to be taken on my death. This information has been discussed with my spouse and/or close family members as indicated by the signatures below. This information is intended to assist my family and the Office of the Diaconate to carry out their responsibilities for making the necessary arrangements on my death.|
|3.||PHONE:||( )||4. FAX:||( )|
|(family or shared account)|
|6.||NEXT OF KIN/PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE (spouse, family member, etc.): those who will make final decisions|
|7.||DISPOSITION OF THE BODY:||Burial||Cremation|
|Burial Clothing:||Alb & Stole||Secular Clothing|
|9.||CHURCH OF FUNERAL RITES:|
|Wherever assigned at time|
|in lieu of flowers|
LITURGICAL ARRANGEMENT PREFERENCES
|2.||Mass of Christian Burial:|
|Presider – Final Commendation:|
|(Scripture Passage)||(Lectionary No.)|
|(Scripture Passage)||(Lectionary No.)|
|(Scripture Passage)||(Lectionary No.)|
|Preparation of Gifts|
|Lamb of God|
|Song of Farewell|
|* Note: Are those who would exercise a particular role or function aware of your desires?|
|Have you made pre-arrangements?|
|If so, have they been pre-paid?|
|Copy of Deed Enclosed:|
|Received by Division of Clergy Personnel:|
|(Committee review 12-11-2020; Board review 05-04-2021; Chancellor review 06-20 2021; Ad experimentum approval 11-19-2021)|