Funeral Planning

For Christians, death is the end of our earthly pilgrimage but it is the beginning of our new eternal life with God. The funeral liturgy entrusts our beloved to God and offers hope to those who mourn. For this reason, we gather together with family and friends to remember our loved one and to pray through the comforting Word of God and the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

We know that planning for a funeral and a burial can be a daunting task. Many decisions have to be made in a very short period of time and it can feel overwhelming. St. Joseph is here to help you with your decisions. We offer several choices to show thanksgiving for the life of your beloved and to offer prayers and intercessions to the Lord our God. These are:

  • Funeral Mass
  • Memorial Mass
  • Rite of Committal at place of burial or interment

The first step is to contact St. Joseph to set up a planning meeting to go over the various options. Each of these options is explained in our funeral guide here. Other St. Joseph’s documents are:

Please call 301.663.0907 or email the Parish Office if you are interested in having a funeral, Memorial Mass, or Rite of  Committal at St. Joseph.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Catholics allowed to be cremated?
Even though the Church prefers the burial of your loved one after the example of Christ’s own burial, permission has been granted for Catholics to be cremated, assuming that family members making the decision still believe in a future with Christ and the immortal soul.

Can cremated remains be scattered or remain in the home?
In keeping with our hope in the resurrection of the body, the Church requires that cremated remains be buried or interred in individual graves or columbaria and not be scattered or remain in the home.

May non-practicing Catholics receive Catholic funerals?
The Church offers funeral rites including a funeral Mass for non-practicing Catholics. Although the deceased may not have participated fully in the life of the Church on earth, absence from the Church does not separate them from the community of the Church.

Can someone who has died as a result of suicide be buried in the Church?
Yes. There are special prayers for this in the “Order of Christian Funerals.”

Can there be a funeral rite for un-baptized children?
The Church’s funeral rites may be celebrated for a child who died before Baptism.

Can a family member donate his/her body to science?”
The Church looks upon the donation of one’s body and organs as a commendable and meritorious act. If possible, the Funeral Mass should take place before the donation. Otherwise, if the body is not present, a Memorial Mass is celebrated.

May I request another priest to celebrate or concelebrate at the funeral?
Yes, visiting priests are welcome at St. Joseph. A letter of good standing is required prior to the funeral as stated by the USCCB.

Can non-Catholics receive Communion at a Catholic Mass?”
Non-Catholics cannot receive the Eucharist at a Catholic Mass but are welcome to celebrate and pray with us during Mass. Non-Catholics and all those unable to receive may come forward during the Communion procession for a blessing with their hands crossed in front of their chest.


Because of the number of decisions that have to be made very quickly, for your convenience St. Joseph has compiled a list of resources including listings of funeral homes, florists, and cemeteries.

Note: St. Joseph does not endorse or recommend any business or organization and we cannot verify the quality or business practices of the businesses and organizations listed here. St. Joseph is not responsible for any business practices.

Caring for a loved one at life’s end
United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) on caring
EWTN End of Life Decisions
USCCB End of Life Issues
Catholic Last Rites and Viaticum

Prayer for Our Dearly Departed

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen

May the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God,
rest in peace.