Lay ministers to lead funerals in U.K.

It’s happening in Liverpool, according to The Tablet:

Twenty-two Lay Funeral Ministers, men and women, have been commissioned to lead funeral services where there is no Requiem Mass and no priest available.

The move, which comes into effect in the autumn, is due to the declining number of priests and the large number of funerals that take place in parts of the archdiocese. A leaflet issued by the archdiocese, “Planning a Catholic Funeral”, explains that a lay funeral minister can lead the prayer vigil service before a funeral, a funeral service, and the committal, the prayers at the graveside. Lay ministers will only lead a funeral service if there is no priest available.

A spokesman for the archdiocese said the lay ministers were “specifically trained to lead funeral services with an appropriate liturgy of the word, readings and prayers.”

Additional details, courtesy the blog A Reluctant Sinner:

Here are a few passages from the Archdiocese of Liverpool’s pamphlet, which seems to have been written for those wanting a Catholic funeral:

Just as there are stages in the process of grieving, the Church encourages us to say farewell to our loved ones in three main stages:

·         The Prayer Vigil, usually the evening before the funeral;
·         The Funeral, which may be a Mass or a Funeral Service;
·         The Committal at the cemetery or crematorium.

However all these rites are not appropriate in every situation and the parish looking after the funeral will be happy to help you decide on what is best for you and to choose appropriate readings, prayers and music.

The Prayer Vigil

The Vigil may be held in the home of the deceased person, in a funeral home or in the church and may be led by a Lay Funeral Minister. The mood of the Vigil is one of quiet support, with readings from scripture and prayers. It may include the Rosary and appropriate poems and songs.

The Funeral  

This is the community’s main celebration and prayer for the deceased person. This could be a Funeral Mass, but if the majority of the mourners would not be able to participate fully in a Mass, or if no Priest is available, it may be a Funeral Service led by a Lay Funeral Minister or a Deacon.  It cannot be guaranteed that all the deceased’s wishes will be fulfilled, even where a pre‐paid funeral plan has been arranged.

The family and friends of the deceased can be involved, if they feel able, in a variety of ways:

·         Placing on the coffin symbols of Christian faith, such as the pall (a large white cloth which   reminds us of Baptism), a crucifix and an open bible.
·         Placing other symbols of the person’s life on a table near the coffin.
·         Reading the scripture passages or the intercessions.
·         Speaking briefly in memory of the deceased person.
·         Bringing up the gifts of bread and wine (if it is a Mass).

The Funeral usually takes place in the parish church but, if it is not a Mass, it may sometimes be appropriate to hold it in the chapel of the cemetery or crematorium immediately before the Committal…

Read more.


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