Funerals at St. John the Baptist
Whether death has come peacefully or tragically, your Catholic community is here to help you. Our faith teaches us that every life has dignity because each person is made in the image and likeness of God. When a Christian dies, the Church gathers in prayer to express, in the midst of grief, our faith in a loving God, to give thanks for the life of the deceased, and to offer them as a gift to God. In the funeral rituals, we proclaim our absolute faith in the transforming reality of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who invites us to share in his risen life.
Please contact Fr. Bill or the parish office prior to scheduling the funeral with the funeral home to ensure we can accommodate your preferred date. Four to fourteen days after death is the preferred time frame to schedule a funeral under normal circumstances. Typically we schedule funerals Weds.-Friday at 11 am.
Three Parts of the Funeral Ritual
The three separate and sequential rites of the Vigil, Funeral Mass, and Committal are the most fitting way to celebrate the pilgrimage of the deceased Christian.
- The Vigil is when the Christian community keeps watch with the family in prayer, usually the night before the funeral Mass. It may be held at the family home, the parish, or the funeral home. It may include Scripture readings, a formal liturgy, a rosary, and sharing of stories of the deceased. At the church a deacon or lay volunteer will lead the vigil. The body may or may not be present.
- The Funeral Mass is celebrated at church, with the body present. There are three parts to the service: The Reception of the Body, the Eucharist, and the Final Commendation. The family will meet with the priest to determine the appropriate readings, music, and prayers for the service.
- The Committal concludes the funeral rites and is the final act of the community of faith. This prayer acknowledges that, for the Christian, the grave is a sign of hope that promises resurrection. It is normally celebrated on the same day as the funeral Mass. It takes place at the gravesite of the deceased. The Catholic cemetery serving South King County is Gethsemane, located in Federal Way (253 838-2240).
Regarding Tahoma National Cemetery:
For veterans being interred at Tahoma National Cemetery, the U.S. military provides its own military service that is held at a kiosk and not at the graveside. Due to these restrictions, it may make sense to celebrate the Catholic ritual of committal at a later time when the family can gather at the gravesite and the grave can be blessed.
The U.S. Military does not provide any service for the non veteran spouse. A Catholic committal serve can take place if the military allows the family to gather at the grave or columbarium.
Covid 19 Funeral Expense Assistance
Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA is providing financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020. Call this dedicated toll-free phone number to get a COVID-19 Funeral Assistance application completed with help from FEMA's representatives. Multilingual services will be available. COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline 844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585 Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time
Planning the Funeral
Family members and friends take an active role in planning and celebrating the liturgy by choosing the prayers, readings, gospel and the music. Usually family or friends read the first and second readings, act as liturgical ministers, bring up the gifts at Mass, and read a reflection on the deceased’s life. We will give you a book with optional prayers, readings, and music appropriate for funerals, and we can help you choose them if desired.
You may also choose the hymns to be sung at the funeral. We generally have a pianist and a vocalist to sing the Mass parts and hymns, and there is typically a fee for the musicians. Visit the funeral music page to hear songs appropriate for funerals.
The parish will print a worship aid that has the music, responses and references to the readings you have chosen. A picture of the deceased can be included on the cover. There is no room in the worship aid for additional poetry, obituary, or message from the family. A portrait of the deceased or a picture collage may be set up in the narthex. Flowers may also be delivered to the church and parish staff will help with the proper arrangement of the flowers in the sanctuary.
Ordinarily, receptions follow funerals or memorial services and are prepared and hosted by our Funeral Ministry team. However, COVID19 rules require families to engage a caterer for the gathering. Our volunteers will assist in set up and clean up of the Multi-purpose rooms, and our staff will help you to use the audio/visual equipment if you would like to have music or a slide show for your reception. The reception is a luncheon reception. Note that funeral receptions are available for morning services, on weekdays, only.
- Cremation-One of the first choices many face or have already made is whether to have the body of the deceased cremated. While it is preferred that the body of the deceased is present at the funeral rite and then cremated later, it is permissible to have the cremated remains present at the pastor's discretion. Cremated remains must be buried or placed in a columbarium rather than scattered, placed in jewelry, or kept at home. If financial hardship is driving the decision to cremate the remains, the parish may be able to provide assistance with funeral costs.
- Non-Catholics-We are able to celebrate a funeral if the deceased was a validly baptized Christian, a non-Catholic minister is not available, the surviving family is Catholic, and the deceased would not have objected.
- Memorials (where no remains are present) and Funerals outside the Mass-may be permitted under certain circumstances.
For a complete description of the funeral process, and some helpful ideas regarding dealing with grief and your loved ones belongings, view our complete funeral booklet by clicking the link below.