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Funerals

At the death of a Christian, whose life of faith was begun in the waters of baptism and strengthened at the eucharistic table, the Church intercedes on behalf of the deceased because of its confident belief that death is not the end nor does it break the bonds forged in life. The Church also ministers to the sorrowing and consoles them in the funeral rites with the comforting word of God and the sacrament of the eucharist. (Order of Christian Funerals, 4)

If you are visiting this page, it is possible that you feel sad, lost, confused, stunned, or possibly even angered or overwhelmed by your loss. Now, you’re not really sure what you need to do, or where you should turn to find comfort, love and a helping heart to help bear the pain and grief you feel. We pledge to do all we can to support you during this difficult time. Our local funeral homes will help take care of most details with our Church regarding logistics and times, while our parish  ministers will meet with the deceased’s family to plan the funeral service at the church.

Your First Step

Please contact our Parish Office and let us know of your loved one’s passing and what funeral home will be making arrangements. Do not feel you have to “take the lead” to plan all the details. We recommend letting the funeral home work through the details as both they and the parish have constraints on when we can support your celebration of life.

Planning the Funeral

At St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, the liturgical details of funerals and memorials are planned with the family or friends of the deceased guided by a priest, pastoral associates, and the family or friends of the deceased. Please call the Parish Office at 703-221-4044. One of our pastoral associates will organize a meeting to plan the funeral liturgy.

St. Francis of Assisi Funeral Guidelines

The topics below are meant to offer some simple guidelines to the most common areas of inquiry. As mentioned above, do not feel you have to “take the lead” to plan all the details. We recommend letting the funeral home work through the timing details while you work with the parish to plan the details of the funeral celebration. Please download our Funeral Liturgy Planner to assist you with some details for the celebration.

Families of the Parish

If you are suffering a loss of a family member, please know you have the sympathy and support of your St. Francis Parish community.  Parish family members who have been registered and active for a minimum of three months, are welcome and encouraged to schedule a funeral Mass for their beloved departed family member.

Setting a Time

Due to other commitments of the Church sanctuary, funerals are available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. Later start times can be discussed.

Graveside Services

If desired, the priest can accompany the family to the graveside if scheduling allows. The place of internment must be within the parish boundaries. Also, the family should understand that interment services are quite brief and have their own liturgical rite.

Quantico Graveside Services

Please be aware that the Friars at St. Francis are frequently called upon to preside over Graveside Services at Quantico National Cemetery for non-parishioner Catholics. The friars oblige as often as their schedule allows as a favor to the grieving families and the Veterans’ Administration.  However,  we are unable to accommodate a funeral Mass at the church (St. Francis of Assisi Parish) prior to the same requested graveside.

Also, please understand that internment services are quite brief and have their own liturgical rite. Therefore, eulogies, singing, and readings are not permitted.

The stipend for a graveside is $100 (made payable to the priest celebrant).

Words of Remembrance

Some families wish to have a family member or friend offer words of remembrance in honor of the person who has died. This is best done at the funeral home during the wake service or afterward at a reception. However, words of remembrance may also be given at the church before the funeral service entrance procession. If there are remembrances to be shared, only one person may offer Words of Remembrance.

The person sharing remembrances should prepare by writing out the text. A guideline is that a single side of paper in 12-point print with 1.5 line spacing, will take approximately 5 minutes to deliver when spoken at a normal pace.  The remembrance may last no longer than five minutes total.

In regards to content, one suggestion is that if it has appeared in the obituary, then there is no need to repeat it in the remembrance. What listeners find most memorable are stories: stories that reveal a moment known only to the speaker; stories that unveil or highlight the best characteristics of the loved one; stories that should be retold and passed on to the next generation.

Burial or Cremation?

The Catholic Church holds the bodies of its deceased members in the highest regard, with great reverence being due the human body in all stages, from conception through death and on to its final resting place.

While burial continues to be the Church’s preference, and our rites presume the presence of a body and casket, the Church does permit cremation so long as it is not chosen because of a denial of belief in the resurrection or denial of any other Catholic teaching. “When cremation is chosen, our Order of Christian Funerals urges that the body be present in church for the funeral when at all possible, and for the cremation to take place afterward. This helps loved ones of the deceased to make their final farewell within the gathered community of faith, supported by the prayers, blessings, and ceremonies of the Church’s liturgy.” – Through Death to Life by Joseph M. Champlin.

When a loved one has been cremated, their ashes must be kept intact, the same as one would treat a body. The ashes may not be separated or scattered. Instead, they should remain in a proper vessel that is interred in a proper place, such as a cemetery or columbarium.

Music

Music is an integral part of the Funeral Rite. Music at funerals “should support, console, and uplift the participants and should help to create in them a spirit of hope in Christ’s victory over death and in the Christian’s share in that victory” (OCF, 31). Family members, with guidance from parish staff, may choose appropriate liturgical music for the funeral. Because a funeral is an act of worship, only sacred music is appropriate. This excludes the use of popular music, show tunes, and, often, patriotic music.

Parish staff will arrange for an organist/pianist and cantor. Participation for others to participate musically is at the approval of the Director of Music.

Readings

At the planning meeting with the parish staff (Funeral Coordinator), the family will be provided a booklet with the approved readings that may be used at a funeral. All readings must be taken from the approved Catholic scriptures: the New American Bible. These same readings can also be found on the US Catholic Conference of Bishops website:

1st Readings
Readings from the Old Testament
Readings from the New Testament (during Easter Time)

2nd Readings –
Readings from the New Testament

Gospels:    Gospels  (selected by the priest)

If the funeral is for a child, there are other readings appropriate to the moment. Those can be discussed with the parish during the planning meeting.

Lectors for the Readings

The family is welcomed to invite members to proclaim the first and second readings. The person must be Catholic, practicing the Faith, have reached their 16th birthday, and be comfortable speaking publicly on the day of the funeral.

Flowers

Flowers may be delivered to the Parish Office the day before the liturgy, no later than 3:00 p.m.; or on the day of the liturgy, no earlier than 9:30 a.m. After the service, the funeral home or family members normally remove the flowers from the Church.

Please note that during the Lenten Season, flowers will be present in the vestibule only.

Funeral and Other Fees

Most funerals are coordinated through one of our local funeral homes. Depending on the funeral home, parish fees are sometimes included. There are fees for the priest celebrant, the musicians, and cantor. The parish has the capability to live stream the funeral Mass. If that is something of interest to the family, those fees can be discussed with the parish staff (Funeral Coordinator) during the planning meeting.

Post Funeral Receptions

Reception space may be available on the parish campus following the funeral service. There is no charge for the use of the facility space, but we require that the family use the Parish Caterer. If this is something that is desired we will make arrangements for you to coordinate (menu and fees) with the Parish Caterer. (Note: during this extended pandemic time, this service is not available)

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