The Vatican’s recent instruction on Christian practice with regard to human remains confirms what has been taught in funeral planning sessions in Tauranga parish.

The Parish of St Thomas Aquinas has been running such sessions once or twice a year since 2003.

The sessions help parishioners make choices ahead of time about what kind of funeral they would like – including hymns, readings and prayers, and who will do them.

This means that a grieving family will have some guidance at a stressful time.

The parish holds a confidential copy of the choices made, while the parishioner keeps the original with their other personal documents Parish Bereavement Support Committee
chairman Paul Hickey runs the sessions, which are also attended by the parish priest.

Mr Hickey said all topics to do with funerals are covered and a wide variety of questions can arise.

Mr Hickey told NZ Catholic “cremation is popular because of costs and the [Vatican] instruction confirms what we understood to be the case — that the ashes should be buried [or otherwise properly interred]”.

During the Tauranga sessions, “we generally state the requirements of the Requiem Mass; one eulogy to be before the Mass proper, audio-visual is acceptable before and after Mass but not during; Pop songs are not suitable: Recessional music of suitable music is
acceptable”.

Mr Hickey said many people are grateful that the parish provides this service.

“This is a way to get the type of funeral that they want as we see many loyal parishioners not buried [from] the Church or not being given a Requiem Mass because their families have moved away from the Church and have lost contact.

“A signed funeral choice is a strong wish of the type of Catholic funeral that you wish to have.”

Tauranga parish also celebrates memorial Masses every six months for those who have recently died. One is on the Feast of All Souls and the other is at the beginning of May.

“We get very good feedback from  these Masses as sometimes at funerals the family does not have time to grieve and the memorial Mass gives closure to their sorrow,” Mr Hickey said.

Tauranga parish’s website www.taurangamoanacatholic.nz also has links to information about funerals.

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