Members of the Funeral Support Ministry may be reached through the parish office. These people will help with aspects of planning the funeral liturgy, burial, luncheon and grief support.
Church Office 570-275-2512
From the Pastor…
Upon this sad occasion of your loved one’s death, please accept the deepest condolences of St. Joseph Church, Danville, Pa. Now, more than ever, it is important to remember that "we believe that Jesus died and rose again (and), through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep.” (Thes. 4:14) May the upcoming funeral rites at St. Joseph Church sustain and comfort you in belief of everlasting life.
Order of Christian Funerals
The heavenly life of glory awaiting us, given through Christ’s death and resurrection, shines forth in three ritual movements. The Order of Christian Burial begins with a short vigil or wake service. Once done in the home throughout the night, the vigil (from the Latin word meaning "to watch”) emphasizes the coming of the Lord, through special prayers and Scripture readings prescribed by the Church for this occasion. The vigil usually takes place either the evening before or the morning of the main funeral liturgy, often during the viewing in the funeral home, with family and friends present. The rosary can be recited upon request. The Mass of Christian Burial follows, usually with the body of the deceased present. The Eucharist is the Catholic faith community’s central act of worship, instituted by Christ at the Last Supper the night before He died. How comforting to remember that He said "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6: 54) Instead of a Mass, the family may request a Scripture service in the funeral home, either combined with or separate from the vigil, especially if the deceased did not participate in Sunday Eucharist regularly. However, a Mass will always be celebrated if so requested. The final rite is the grave side burial service, where the final prayers of committal are said. It is during these three rites that the bereaved experience the love and support of the church community.
Cremation is now permitted by the Catholic Church, as long as the remains are interred respectfully in the ground, a mausoleum or columbarium. It is not permitted to keep the remains at home or to scatter them.
Participation by family members during the Mass in such liturgical roles as altar server, lector, cantor, psalmist or extraordinary minister is permissible for practicing Catholics who are properly trained for the role chosen. Otherwise, parishioners of St. Joseph Church will provide the ministry needed.
It is fitting for the faithful’s participation to be expressed by their presenting both bread and wine for the celebration of the Eucharist. Because of our strong belief that these elements will be changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, only Catholics are to present these gifts.
Liturgy of The Word
The Liturgy of the Word is an integral part of the Catholic Funeral Liturgy. Since the Word of God teaches about the real meaning of Christian death, non-Scriptural readings are not permitted." The Scripture readings should instruct the assembly about the meaning of the death of this Christian in light of the death and resurrection of Jesus as well as the connection between Christian death and the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. The family of the deceased can make a selection of readings from the Order of Christian Funerals which will be presented to them as they plan the service with the Pastor.
One flower arrangement may remain after the funeral Liturgy. It should be placed in St. Hubert Chapel, where regrettably, space limits the acceptance of more than one. In keeping with the atmosphere of Lent, flowers are not permitted in the church during this liturgical season.
Music is integral to the funeral rite. Selections should be music familiar to the community, reflecting that of the Sunday Mass. The Acclamations as well as the Song of Farewell are always sung. Selections are made with the assistance of the parish Music Coordinator. Other non liturgical music may be more appropriate at the funeral luncheon. In observance of the guidelines from "Music in Catholic Worship”, the music is led by a trained Cantor, who leads the participation of the assembly. The cantors must be trained and approved cantors of St. Joseph’s, or of another Catholic parish.
The Pastor is responsible for parish funerals and is the usual main celebrant. However, with permission from the pastor, other priests may preside, concelebrate or preach. Clergy of other denominations have a limited role during Mass but may offer a prayer or words of remembrance during the final commendation. They may proclaim Scripture, offer prayers or speak during a non- Eucharistic funeral service, the vigil, or graveside service.
Reception of Communion
The reception of Holy Communion signifies faith in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine. Because of the unfortunate differences which still divide the Christian denominations with regard to understanding the Eucharist, only practicing Catholics who are not conscious of serious sin may receive.
Words of Remembrance
Words of remembrance (eulogy) may be shared with the congregation by one person at the end of Mass or the main funeral service. Others wishing to speak may do so at the vigil (wake), graveside service, or the funeral luncheon. The length of the talk should be about three minutes (two typed pages) and should reflect the Christian qualities of the deceased and the witness he or she gave to life. The eulogy is shared from the cantor’s podium, not the ambo (pulpit).
The parish bereavement committee does provide a post-funeral luncheon, upon request, in our St. Hubert Hall. The hall can comfortably seat around one hundred people. There is no charge for the meal but an optional donation from the family is welcomed to help defray expenses.
A Bereavement Support Group provides support to those who have experienced the death of a loved one. A Remembrance Liturgy is held on All Souls Day (Nov. 2) when family and friends are invited to light a candle in memory of their loved one who has passed away from our parish.