Divine Worship
66 Brooks Drive
Braintree, MA 02184-3839


Thomas Lyman
Coordinator of Divine Worship
Office: 617-746-5880
Fr. Jonathan M. Gaspar
Archdiocesan Master of Ceremonies and Chaplain
Diane Campbell
Executive Assistant, Secretariat for Evangelization and Discipleship
Office: 617-746-5761
Fax: 617-779-4570

Divine Worship


Entitlement to the Ministry of the Church at the Time of Death

Funeral Policy

Every Catholic, unless specifically excluded by the norms of law, is entitled to the Church's ministry at the time of death. Application of the norms provided in Canon 1184 must be done in collaboration with the Office of the Vicar General.
  1. In coordination with the parish priest, the family of the deceased and the funeral director chosen by the family arrange the place and set the time for the Vigil, the Funeral Mass, and the Rite of Committal.
  2. The Funeral Mass is the principal celebration of Catholic funerals in the Archdiocese of Boston, for it is in the eucharistic sacrifice that the Church celebrates Christ’s Passover from death to life. When survivors hesitate to request a Mass, they should consult the pastor. The pastor should encourage the offering of Mass, explaining that the Funeral Mass is a prayer for God's mercy for the deceased and a solace for the living, including the entire faith community. If the family of the deceased chooses to celebrate the Funeral Liturgy outside Mass, then the parish should offer an intentioned Mass for the repose of the soul of the deceased. In certain cases where there are not enough Masses available for these intentioned Masses, then the parish should offer one monthly Mass for the sake of all those who died that month.
  3. Catechumens may be given Ecclesiastical Funeral Rites.
  4. In the Archdiocese of Boston, Ecclesiastical Funeral Rites, including the Funeral Mass, are permitted for a deceased baptized non-Catholic who might reasonably be presumed to desire or prefer the Catholic rite. Such a decision would be appropriate when non-Catholics worship regularly in the Catholic Church or identify with the Catholic Church more than any other.
  5. To foster and respect family bonds, non-Catholic members of Catholic families may be interred in a Catholic cemetery. Clergy of other communions, vested if they desire, may conduct the cemetery rites according to their tradition, if the family so desires or if it was the expressed wish of the deceased.
  6. The Church encourages the burial of Catholics in Catholic cemeteries (Canon 1180.1). Burial in the consecrated ground of a Catholic cemetery is a sign of baptismal commitment and gives witness, even in death, to faith in Christ's resurrection.
  7. A child who dies before Baptism, or a stillborn or miscarried child, may be given ecclesiastical funeral rites if the parents intended to have the child baptized. The remains of fetuses or stillborns should always receive reverent Christian burial if this is at all possible. These remains may be placed either in specific individual graves or in a common burial area. Special care and pastoral outreach should be offered to the grieving parents.
  8. The Order of Christian Funerals provides a complete funeral liturgy for children who have died (OCF #234-342). The various texts for a baptized child or a child who died before Baptism make these rites fully adaptable to various situations, and offer consolation for those suffering the extraordinary grief which comes with the death of a child.
  9. There is no objection to Catholics making prior arrangements to donate their bodies or parts of them, after certain death, to advance medical science. Upon eventual disposition of the body or its parts, there should be reasonable assurance that the remains will be disposed of in a proper, reverential manner. The family of such a donor should be encouraged to celebrate a pro-burial Mass as soon as possible after death. Whatever remains of the body after an organ transplant or medical research should be given appropriate burial. The rite of final committal with final commendation (OCF #224-233) offers a model for concluding prayers for the donor and the donor's family (CCC 2300-2301).