The Catholic Church teaches that death is not an end of life but a change. In the burial of a Christian, family and friends celebrate the faith of a deceased person and Christ’s victory over death and suffering. Christian burial is a time for family and friends to console each other with the healing words of Christ and the liturgy of the Church. This page includes:
- Information about planning the funeral liturgy and burial
- Frequently asked questions
For information about the parish cemetery, see the Cemetery page.
Planning the Funeral Liturgy and Burial
When someone dies, please call the parish office at 262-377-1070 to make arrangements. We will schedule a time for you to meet the priest and director of liturgical music, to prepare the liturgy, including your choices for music and readings. Our parish priests preside at all funerals here.
The burial at the cemetery is called the Rite of Committal, and is often led by a lay minister from our staff. (For information about the parish cemetery, see the Cemetery page.)
Depending on the availability of our Parish Hall, the Christian Women’s Circle can host a luncheon following the funeral. They utilize an outside caterer and set up, serve and clean up to offer support and comfort to fellow parishioners. You will be offered this option as part of the funeral planning process.
Frequently Asked Questions about Funeral Liturgies and Christian Burial
Is a vigil service necessary?
A vigil service is customary on the night before a morning funeral, but it is not absolutely necessary.
Can Catholics be cremated?
Yes. The prohibition against cremation no longer exists, since cremation no longer symbolizes a denial of bodily resurrection. In many cases, cremation may be the most affordable type of burial. Ordinarily a funeral liturgy will be celebrated with the body present before cremation. In the event that the body cannot be present, a Memorial Mass for the deceased may be celebrated with the family.
Can Catholics donate all or parts of their body to medical science?
Yes. Donor cards can be obtained from any hospital. Ordinarily a funeral liturgy will be celebrated with the body present before donation of the body to medical science. In the event that the body cannot be present, a Memorial Mass for the deceased may be celebrated with the family.
Must the coffin be open during the visitation?
The coffin may be in state opened or closed. While the decision is totally up to the relatives, please remember that many who are grieving need to “see” the deceased in order to bring a sense of closure. This can be especially important when the death was sudden. If there was a prolonged period of suffering before death, and the family determines the casket should be closed, a photograph of the deceased may be displayed.
Can Catholics be buried in a non-Catholic cemetery?
Can non-Catholics be buried in a family plot in a Catholic cemetery?
How much money should be spent on Christian burial?
From a Christian point of view, excessive amounts of money need not be spent on the dead. Christian faith is in the resurrected body. What money is saved may be given to the poor and others in need, or used for works of charity.
Are there any restrictions on when a funeral liturgy can be held?
The Mass of Christian Burial may be celebrated on all days except Sundays, Holy Days and the last three days of Holy Week (the Paschal Triduum). This is stated in the Guidelines for Christian Burial issued for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee (2/15/79) and based on the general liturgical law of the Church.
Does the funeral liturgy need to be a Mass with Communion?
When a Catholic dies and the remaining members of the family belong to another denomination, the Catholic funeral liturgy may be celebrated without Mass and Communion. This form of the funeral liturgy may be most fitting in circumstances where very few of the relatives and friends of the deceased are active in the Catholic community.
Is it better for people to send flowers or donations?
Flowers may be sent to share grief. In place of flowers, it is suggested that donations be made to the poor, to charities or to medical research.