San Rocco Oratory

of the Archdiocese of Chicago

Funeral of Arthur Ranieri, at San Rocco Oratory
The funeral liturgy begins at the door of the church or oratory, where the priest greets the family. Here, at the funeral of Arthur Ranieri, age 104, the priest greets Nora, the daughter, on the left, as well as Olga and Vincent Ranieri.

Sprinkling with holy water
The casket is then sprinkled with holy water, as a reminder of baptism and the eternal life promised in baptism.

The funeral pall is placed on the casket.
Next, the white funeral pall is placed on the casket. This pall is a reminder of the white garment that early Christians wore on the day of their baptism. Again, this is a reminder of eternal life with Jesus Christ.

Final Commendation for Dolly Pinnow
At the end of the funeral liturgy in church, instead of the final blessing, there is a final commendation. The priest invites the people to pray in silence. Then, all sing together a hymn of final commendation. Above, you see the singing of this hymn at the funeral of Dolly Pinnow, December 18, 2002. In the back, on the left, is Mayor Angelo Ciambrone. On the right is one of the police officers who served as a pallbearer.

The following hymn is sung by all the people, as the main element in the final commendation.

1. May God welcome her in glory,

and the Father's praise increase,

for the blessings given her at birth,

for the love we shared with her on earth,

God, grant her rest and peace;

God, grant her rest and peace.

2. O Lord, we will surely wander;

yet, wherever we might roam,

we remember how she laughed and cried,

how her faith was firm and never died.

Lord, bring her safely home;

Lord, bring her safely home.

3. The life we have lived is ending,

and the world we know will cease.

Yet the love we lived in our eyes,

and the hope of heaven never dies.

God, grant her rest and peace;

God, grant her rest and peace.

Copyright (c) 1992 American Catholic Press. All rights reserved.


For an introduction to the current Roman Catholic funeral rite, as well as many useful books, visit the ACP Family Bookstore. The Archdiocese of Chicago also has its own set of policies for funerals.

It is the usual custom to have three stations  for a funeral:  a wake at the funeral home, a liturgy at the San Rocco Oratory itself, and a service at the cemetery. 

Prayer at the Wake

Usually, the rector will come to the funeral home the evening before the funeral, say at 7 or 7:30 p.m.  The prayers at the wake consist of a short vigil, in two parts:  (1) opening prayer, hymn, Gospel reading, brief sermon,  and (2)  litany, with sung response, final prayer, Our Father, hymn,  dialogue, and dismissal.   Usually, we stand for the first part and kneel for the second, up to the Our Father.  If people wish to do so, apart from this liturgy, it's also appropriate to say the rosary together or the chaplet of Divine Mercy, according to the wishes of the family.

Some families have a wake just on the morning of the funeral.  Others prefer to have an evening Mass for the funeral, say, at 7 p.m.   If you wish, especially for regular members of the oratory, you can have the wake in the church itself, instead of a funeral home. If you wish, you can have two nights for the wake, as has been customary on the north side of Chicago.  The choice is yours.

The evening before, after the wake liturgy, the family can choose pallbearers, as well as one or two  readers for the Scripture readings at Mass the next morning.  It is  also possible for the family to make a choice among the many Scripture readings suggested, if they wish to do so.    Usually at the funeral Mass, there are three readings, counting the Gospel, as on Sunday.  Therefore, as on Sunday, there would be an Old Testament reading and a New Testament reading, each of which could be read by a different reader.  In general, it's difficult for an immediate family member to take a reading; a better choice will often be a cousin or a good friend, as you wish.

It's also permitted to have someone speak in memory of the deceased; the talk given is called a eulogy.  Such a talk can certainly be given at the wake and is appropriate at that time.  It is also possible to have  a eulogy given at the funeral liturgy itself.  At San Rocco Oratory, it is the usual custom to have such a talk given after the introductory rites, before the Liturgy of the Word begins.  Just after the opening prayer, everyone sits down; the priest presiding would then invite the speaker to come forward.  Please note that a eulogy is optional; it is not required.  Most families don't provide such a talk.  If given during the funeral liturgy, a eulogy would appropriately be a short talk, not more than five or ten minutes at the most.   At the wake the evening before the funeral, the family can decide if they want to have a eulogy; it's their choice.

Funeral Liturgy

Your Guide to a Catholic FuneralThe funeral liturgy usually is celebrated at 11 a.m.  This is a convenient time, to make it easier for people to be there, especially if some people have to travel a good distance to the church.   As mentioned, an evening Mass at 7 p.m. is also an option.

 A Mass is the usual choice; however, for any good reason, a Liturgy of the Word is also a possibility. This would be like the first half of Mass, up to the  General Intercessions, the Prayer of the Faithful, followed by the Final Commendation.

 As during Lent, the organ is normally not used; this custom, long maintained in the Roman Rite, makes the liturgy  somber and restrained.  As at the wake the evening before, singing without accompaniment can be especially reverent and inspiring.   Singing without accompaniment is also our own ancient tradition, maintained for over a thousand years.  It is still the general norm in the Christian East.  This norm doesn't mean we don't sing; we do.  It's just that the singing is not accompanied by the organ, unless it's necessary.

At almost every funeral, the people sing the same familiar songs, so that participation is easy, making for genuine prayer.  For example, many of the acclamations are the same as those sung at Sunday Mass.  People who particpate in Mass regularly at San Rocco will be already comfortable with much of the funeral music.

The opening antiphon, Eternal Rest, is the ancient Requiem Aeternam, now sung in English.  People can join in the singing readily, without any problem.  Similarly, the communion antiphon is May Light Eternal, the ancient Lux Aeterna, sung in English.  Both antiphons are sung over and over again, in response to verses of specific Psalms.  Both antiphons are traditional Gregorian Chant.

An appropriate Psalm, sung after the First Reading is I Lift My Soul, Psalm 25.  Sung responsorially, as at the entrance and during Communion, the Psalm provides a brief refrain sung first by the leader, then by the people; it is repeated again after each verse of the Psalm, as usual.

As at the wake, the people can kneel for the prayer of the faithful, the General Intercessions.  In response to each petition, the people sing Lord, we beg you, hear our prayer or Kyrie, eleison.

During the preparation of the gifts, it is appropriate for family members to present the bread and wine, as at Sunday Mass, in a procession. Afterwards, the altar is incensed, as a sign of honor to Jesus Christ.  The people can sing Father, Make Your Mercy Known or another appropriate hymn.

If most of the people present are from San Rocco, we can sing the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei in Latin, as usual.  At funerals, it is  common for much of the Eucharistic Prayer to be recited, as during Lent.  The preface and final doxology are always sung, as is the Memorial Acclamation, usually Christ has died.

 Service at the Cemetery

Ordinarily, the rector will go to the cemetery and say a few brief prayers in the cemetery chapel or graveside, as circumstances dictate.  This service involves a blessing, a commendation,  a litany, an Our Father, dialogue, prayer for those present, and dismissal.  Interment normally takes place at a later time.

If the family wishes to have a luncheon afterwards at our new hall, on the grounds of the San Rocco Oratory, they would be welcome to do so.  The facility has a complete kitchen and dining facilities.  It is convenient and comfortable.  This hall is located just east of the church building itself, on the other side of the parking lot.  To reserve a time in this hall, please call Yvette Betancourt  (708) 654-7497. That's her cellphone.  Her email address is [email protected]. She will be glad to help you.  See the Sunday bulletin for further information.


San Rocco Oratory

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