Funeral Planning at the Basilica of Saint Peter
Catholic Funeral Rites
Catholic funeral rites celebrate the mystery of our life, death and resurrection in Christ. Faith in this mystery should motivate people arranging the funeral of a loved one. We encourage the celebration of funeral services for parishioners who avidly practiced their Catholic faith or who were unable to participate regularly due to age or health limitations. We will accommodate funeral services for non-parishioners as staffing and facilities resources allow.
The Mass of Christian Burial is the primary funeral service for those who had been practicing the Catholic Faith. In some cases, a Memorial Mass or a simple graveside service is appropriate. When planning arrangements, the pastor will advise and guide you. Following, you will find information about the Mass of Christian Burial as well as information about other topics related to funerals.
In this section
Funeral Planning at the Basilica of Saint Peter (main page)
I. The Order of the Mass of Christian Burial
"The marriage preparation course at Saint Peters was a great experience for my fiancée and me. As a non-Catholic I was unsure of what to expect going into the program, but Father Linsky did a great job of warmly answering questions and explaining concepts to those of us unfamiliar with many aspects of the Catholic Faith and how they relate to marriage. The topics he covered from week to week almost always led to meaningful discussions between my fiancée and me where we learned more about one another's beliefs and preferences. In many ways the program strengthened our relationship, and I truly believe that any couple preparing for marriage would benefit from the program. I will be a better husband, a better father, and a better Christian because of the time we spent with Father Linsky preparing for our marriage."
- A groom, 2020
The Mass of Christian Burial
Funeral arrangements begin with a meeting with the funeral director of your choice. The funeral home then contacts the pastor to confirm the time for the Mass of Christian Burial. Arrangements may only be made (time, place, etc.) with clarification and confirmation with the pastor (or his designee) as to the availability of the clergy, the church, our organist, and a cantor. Once arrangements are made, the family will meet with the pastor to plan the Mass, including making Scriptural and music selections.
We will make every effort to schedule a funeral that accommodates your family. Some notes about scheduling a Mass of Christian Burial:
A Mass of Christian Burial is customarily celebrated in the morning, reflecting the theme of resurrection.
Masses of Christian Burial are not permitted on Sundays, Solemnities or Holy Days, or during the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday).
We may have other liturgies and/or other activities already scheduled in the church; in most cases, we will be unable to reschedule those activities.
Due to staff constraints, we can celebrate only one Mass of Christian Burial per day.
Click here for the Order of the Mass of Christian Burial (what to expect).
If the deceased is to be cremated, we encourage that this takes place after the Mass of Christian Burial. However, the Church permits us to celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial with the cremated remains present. If your family prefers a Memorial Mass, we can celebrate it in the absence of the cremated remains. Church law does require that cremated remains be laid to rest in consecrated ground, either buried in a cemetery or placed in a columbarium. The Church does not permit the cremated remains to be scattered.
Celebrant / Homilist
Normally, our pastor or parochial vicar is the main celebrant and homilist. We welcome visiting priests as concelebrants. Priests from outside the Diocese of Charleston must obtain permission from their bishop and ours.
Music is an integral component of the funeral rites, but it is not central to the rite. It allows the community to express convictions and feelings that words alone fail to convey. Music has the power to console and uplift the mourners and to strengthen the unity of the assembly in faith and love. The texts of the songs chosen for a celebration should express the paschal mystery of the Lord's suffering, death, and triumph over death, and should be related to the readings from Scripture. Generally, the presiding priest, in conjunction with the deceased's family and our Organist / Choirmaster, determine musical selections, to include Mass parts and hymns.
Special notes about music:
Use of a soloist or musicians not affiliated with the Basilica of Saint Peter must be approved by our Organist / Choirmaster and/or the pastor.
We allow a limited number of songs prior to and during the Mass of Christian Burial.
As music for funerals is not a part of the salary of our staff musicians, we ask that the following be paid directly to them:
$250 to the organist
$125 to the cantor
$50 for the preparation of a custom worship aid
The Basilica of Saint Peter maintains its floral arrangements on a weekly basis according to the liturgical season. If you desire additional arrangements, they must be approved by the pastor or his designee.
Floral arrangements and live plants sent from friends and family in memoriam may be arranged in the narthex of the church prior to the Mass.
Photographs and Memorabilia
While memorial displays are often allowed at the visitation at the funeral home, they are not included in the Mass of Christian Burial. However, a framed picture of the deceased, as large as 8" x 10", may be placed on the table in the narthex.
Altar servers are provided by the church.
Incense will be used as a part of the Mass of Christian Burial.
If an honor guard is desired, the family of the deceased must speak with the celebrant regarding its presence at the Mass. We do not permit the firing of rifles on the parish campus.
If desired by the family, and as facilities and volunteer availability allow, the Bereavement Committee of the Basilica of Saint Peter may provide a meal or refreshments in Neglia Hall for attendees of the funeral Mass, following the Mass of Christian Burial or the Committal Rite.
There is no fee for the priest or the church for a Mass of Christian Burial. However, an honorarium is certainly welcome. In most cases, the funeral home has not set aside funds for this, leaving it up to the family to coordinate.