It is customary at San Rocco to pray for certain individuals who are deceased; these people are commemorated by name in the Eucharistic Prayer at Sunday Mass. As a rule, we try to commemorate only one or two people, three at the most. Of course, if somone has died recently, we also pray for that person by name in the Eucharistic Prayer.
Whatever donation the family may make at that time is given to the oratory itself. Traditionally, as you know, this was a Mass stipend and was given to the priest who said the Mass, for his sustenance. However, a parish priest was obligated to celebrate Mass on Sundays and holydays pro populo, that is, "for the people," without a stipend. In other words, the idea behind this law is that the Eucharist should be celebrated on these days because it is required, not because the priest receives a stipend, as he would during the week. In the spirit of this law, it seems fitting, then, that any donation given for Sunday Mass at San Rocco would go to the oratory, not the priest.
(In many parishes, one Sunday Mass is designated as pro populo; the pastor does not take a stipend for that Mass only. In such situations, perhaps the letter of the law is being observed; the spirit of the law, however, is no longer remembered.)
Especially among Italian Americans, there is a genuine reverence for those who are deceased; even in death, there remains a living bond among family members. Graves will be visited, and memories will be cherished. At San Rocco, it is not uncommon for people to visit on a Sunday, from another parish, on the day that a deceased family member is commemorated in the liturgy. You can also put up a photo of the deceased in the vestibule, as you wish. After Mass, you can take the photo home.
To coordinate Mass intentions on Sunday, please contact Barbara DiGiovanni Sunday morning. You can also reach her at (708) 755-0251. If a deceased person's name is pronounced in one special way, please pass on that pronunciation to Barbara, so that she can inform the celebrating priest, on the day you have chosen.
One valuable custom at St. Rocco is the practice of some families to gather on a weekday, say, at 7 p.m., for a memorial Mass, commemorating a deceased family member. It makes much more sense to do something like this, to gather people to pray, on the anniversary of a death, than to make arrangements at a rectory, to have ten or so Masses celebrated when no family member is present. The money is put to a better use than, say, for flowers, yes. But God surely is pleased when people themselves pray together, rather than have someone else do it. At San Rocco, one family has such a memorial Mass every September, for a deceased mother.