The souls of the just are in the hand of God.

From Our Pastor:

“Jesus said, ‘This is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.’”  (John 6:39-40)

Dear Friends,
If this is a time of grief for you, please accept my sincere condolences and offer of prayers.  The Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish family stands ready to support you in your loss and to assist you in preparing funeral services for your loved one in the Roman Catholic tradition. 

The information in this booklet is a brief presentation of the options available to you in arranging Vigil, Funeral, and Cemetery services.  One of our parish clergy or staff members will meet with you to further discuss your choices and plan beautiful liturgies which will commend your loved one to Almighty God and hopefully provide you with the support and consolation of our Christian faith. 

May our Good Lord bless you now and always, 

Rev. Msgr. John N. Fell

Vigil (Wake) Services:
“At the vigil the Christian community keeps watch with the family and finds strength in Christ’s presence . . . In this time of loss, the family and community turn to God’s word as the source of faith and hope . . ..  Consoled by the redeeming word of God and by the abiding presence of Christ and his Spirit, the assembly at vigil calls upon the Father of mercy to receive the deceased into the kingdom of light and peace.”  (Order of Christian Funerals, 56)

 ††The presiding minister is usually a priest or deacon. 

 ††When there are multiple times for the viewing, the priest or deacon will come to one of the scheduled times for the service.  The priest or deacon will generally select the time of the service based upon scheduling considerations.  If there are serious reasons for conducting the Vigil service at a particular time, please inform the priest or deacon as soon as possible.

 ††The Vigil Service is generally conducted at the Funeral Home.

 ††Vigil Service consists of prayers, readings, and a blessing.  All those present at the time of the service are invited to participate.  If family members or friends would like to assist in the selection of readings, or to serve as readers, or to provide music, or even to give a eulogy during the service, please discuss this with the priest or deacon as early as possible.

 ††The Vigil Service generally lasts about 15 minutes.

The Funeral Liturgy:
“When one of its members dies, the Church encourages the celebration of the Mass.  In the proclamation of the Scriptures, the saving word of God through the power of the Spirit becomes living and active in the minds and hearts of the community . . . Confident in Jesus’ presence among them in the living word, the living sacrifice, the living meal, those present in union with the whole Church offer prayers and petitions for the deceased, whom they entrust to God’s merciful love.”  (Order of Christian Funerals, 154)

 ††In most cases, it is preferable to celebrate a Mass as the deceased’s Funeral Liturgy; this Mass is usually offered at the parish church beginning some time between 9:30 and 10:30 am.  There are rare occasions when either the Universal Church calendar (for example, Holydays of Obligation, the Easter Triduum, etc) or the parish calendar do not permit a Funeral Mass or dictate a specific time; the priest or deacon will inform you if such exigencies occur in your situation.  In some cases, it may be preferable to celebrate only a Liturgy of the Word (consisting of prayers, Scripture readings, and a homily; there is no Holy Communion) instead of a Funeral Mass, either at the Funeral Home or Church.  If you are considering this option, please speak with the priest or deacon.

 ††If you are planning a Funeral Mass, a priest will serve as celebrant, possibly assisted by a deacon.  If you are having only a Liturgy of the Word, either a priest or deacon will be assigned to preside and preach. If you have a priest or deacon who is a close friend or member of your family, they are certainly welcome to participate in the funeral; please discuss the details of this with the parish priest or deacon when you meet with him.

 ††The principal focus of the funeral liturgy is the goodness of God and the deceased’s hope of resurrection to eternal life; the key theme is our faith-inspired reliance on the loving, saving deeds of God.  Any actions which tend to depart from this principal focus and emphasize instead the various activities / accomplishments of the deceased (for example, lengthy or multiple eulogies) are not appropriate at this point of the funeral rites.  Such actions are more appropriately placed at the repast following the funeral or at other moments.

 ††The dignity of a funeral liturgy requires the active participation of a music minister.  The clergy member arranging the service will record the family’s church musical requests; only music appropriate for a Roman Catholic worship service may be scheduled.  The clergy member will then either place the family in contact with the parish’s music minister or will contact the music minister himself.  The basic fee for the music minister is $250; the cantor fee is $200.  At the family’s request, the music minister can arrange for additional musicians for an additional fee.  The music minister, with the approval of the Pastor, can grant permission for substitute musicians to accompany the funeral at the family’s request.  This permission is only granted to those musicians whose skill level and knowledge of the Roman Catholic funeral liturgy will enable them to accompany the funeral without distraction.  Fees for the musicians should be delivered directly to them by the funeral director or the family.

 ††You, along with your family and friends, are invited and encouraged to actively participate in the Funeral Liturgy as a way of commending the soul of your loved one to God.  You may do this by joining the hymns, praying the prayers and responses, and listening to the readings.  There are several more active roles that you will be asked to consider.  These include the following: 

  • Helping to place the pall (large white cloth reminiscent of a baptismal garment) over the casket upon entering the church. 
  • If the deceased or family has a special Bible, crucifix, or cross, the family may request that this be placed on top of the casket during the funeral liturgy.  The Bible, crucifix, or cross will be returned to the family at the conclusion of the service. 
  • Selecting and reading the texts from Sacred Scripture that will be proclaimed at the funeral.  The family may also assist with the selection and/or provision of appropriate music for the funeral liturgy.  The priest or deacon will provide you with options and discuss selections with you when you meet. 
  • Writing and/or reading the intercessions. 
  • Carrying up the gifts of bread and wine to be used for the Eucharist. 

††The policy of the Diocese of Metuchen permits one person to deliver a single eulogy of approximately 3 – 5 minutes following the Prayer after Communion.  When choosing a person for this significant role, please consider their ability to speak in public, to speak at a time of grief, and to deliver remarks that are both consoling to the family and appropriate in the context of a religious service.

 ††At the family’s request, the clergy member presiding will be happy to make a brief announcement at the end of the service concerning the family’s preferences (for example, should guests accompany them to the cemetery or mausoleum, are they invited to a repast, should they simply leave at the end of the service, etc).  Please inform the clergy member at the time of your meeting with him.

Rite of Committal:
“The Rite of Committal, the conclusion of the funeral rites, is the final act of the community of faith in caring for the body of its deceased member . . . In committing the body to its resting place, the community expresses its hope that, with all those who have gone before marked with the sign of faith, the deceased awaits the glory of resurrection.  The Rite of Committal is an expression of the communion that exists between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven: the deceased passes with the farewell prayers of the community of believers into the welcoming community of those who need faith no longer but see God face to face.”  (Order of Christian Funerals, 204-6)

††The Rite of Committal generally takes place at the cemetery or crematory.

††If the cemetery is within the Somerset Hills area, a priest or deacon from the parish will normally accompany the family to the place of interment or crematory to perform the Rite of Committal.  If the cemetery is a distance from Bernardsville, the Funeral Director will assist the family in obtaining the services of a priest local to the cemetery to perform this rite.

††In circumstances where the committal will be performed at a time separate from the funeral, the family is encouraged to schedule an appointment with one of the priests or deacons of the parish to celebrate this service.

††The priests and deacons of the parish are always available to console, counsel, and pray with you and your family.

Some Other Considerations:
††Cremation: For a number of years now, the Roman Catholic Church has permitted its faithful to choose the option of cremation.  The Church expresses a preference for the cremation to occur after the funeral, in order that the Church might offer its customary reverences to the physical body of the deceased.  In circumstances where the family judges this not to be possible, it is permissible to bring the cremated remains of the deceased into the Church for the funeral service.

 ††Burial, Interment, Entombment of Remains: The Church teaches that “the cremated remains of a body should be treated with the same respect given to the human body from which they come.  This includes the use of a worthy vessel to contain the ashes, the manner in which they are carried, the care and attention to the appropriate placement and transport, and the final disposition. The cremated remains should be buried in a grave or entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium.  The practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping cremated remains in the home of a relative or friend of the deceased are not the reverent disposition that the Church requires.  Whenever possible, appropriate means for recording with dignity the memory of the deceased should be adopted, such as a plaque or stone which records the name of the deceased.”  (Order of Christian Funerals, 417)

Some Words of Comfort:
From the Holy Gospel according to St. John:

 “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God; have faith also in me.  In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.  If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am, you also may be.” (John 14:1-4)

Please pray for your deceased loved one and for all the faithful departed: 

Holy Lord, almighty and eternal God,
hear our prayer on behalf of your servant,
whom you have called out of the world.
Forgive his/her sins and failings
and grant him/her a place of refreshment, light, and peace.
Let him/her pass through the gates of death
to dwell with the blessed in light,
as you promised Abraham and his children forever.  Accept (name) into your safekeeping
and on the great day of judgment
raise him/her up with all the saints
to inherit your eternal kingdom.
We ask this through Christ the Lord.  Amen.

Appendix:  Guidelines for Funerals / Memorial Masses / Other Memorial Services Not Under the Supervision of a Funeral Director:

††Special guidelines apply to funerals, memorial masses, and other memorial services not under the direct supervision of a licensed funeral director in which the deceased’s cremated remains are present or in which no physical remains of the deceased are present.  Funerals, memorial masses, and other memorial services in the presence of the deceased’s body will only be scheduled through and with the professional services of a licensed funeral director.

††These guidelines cover only the liturgical aspects of the funeral / memorial mass.  Arrangements for the purchase of cemetery or mausoleum space, and arrangements for interment or entombment of remains are entirely separate and must be made with the management of the cemetery / mausoleum involved.  Clergy from the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help will normally attend only interments / entombments carried out in the Somerset Hills area.

††Arrangements for funerals / memorial masses not under the supervision of a licensed funeral director are initiated when the family contacts the parish office; please call the parish secretary at (908)-766-0079, ext. 0, Mondays through Fridays (holidays excepted), between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm to begin the process.  The parish secretary will advise the family of these guidelines, and will arrange for the Pastor, or, at the Pastor’s direction, another clergy member, to contact the family to set up a planning appointment. 

††At the planning appointment, the Pastor or assigned clergy member will work with the family to schedule the service, determine its nature and form, select scripture readings, appoint liturgical ministers, and choose music.  The clergy member will also give guidance regarding appropriate flowers and other memorializations of the deceased.  While there is some leeway in funeral / memorial mass planning, such services are liturgical actions of the Roman Catholic Church; all arrangements must respect the rituals and expectations of the church.  All that was said above, including the guidelines regarding liturgical planning, music, and eulogies applies to these services as well.

††If the deceased’s cremated remains are to be present, the parish will provide a small table near the front of the church for their placement.  The transportation and handling of the deceased’s cremated remains are entirely the family’s responsibility.  The family should arrange for the deceased’s cremated remains to arrive no later than 15 minutes before the service is scheduled to begin to allow for dignified placement.  The family is expected to remove the deceased’s cremated remains from the church immediately following the service.  Also, the placement and removal of all flowers and other memorializations, under the direction of the pastor or clergy member presiding, are entirely the responsibility of the family.

††The church requires that the earthly remains of her members be handled and buried with great reverence.  Funerals, memorial masses, and other memorial services will be scheduled only for those deceased whose family promises to bury or entomb their remains. 

††Funerals / memorial masses will be arranged with regard to both the convenience of the family of the deceased and the various requirements of the parish schedule.  The timing and nature of the services must also respect the church’s liturgical traditions.

††The fee for a funeral / memorial mass is currently set at $250; this fee is waived for active parishioners.  This fee is not kept by the clergy member performing the service, but is used to support the parish’s ongoing ministerial and charitable activities.  If this fee would present a hardship to any other family, please discuss this with the clergy member presiding at the service.  Payment of the fee can be handed to the clergy member involved.

††If we can be of any further assistance to your family at this difficult time, please do not hesitate to contact the parish clergy.  Please be assured of our ongoing prayers.

May the God of all consolation bring you peace!

Please consider our parish’s Holy Cross Cemetery and Mausoleum when considering funeral plans.  We offer in-ground, mausoleum, and columbarium options and are available to discuss these choices with you.  For more information, please contact the Parish and Cemetery Office at (908)-766-0079, extension 0.

We would be honored to serve your needs.