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funeral for ordained

funeralRecently I have had several inquiries about funerals for those who are ordained. I have been asked, are there any protocols for those who are ordained?

In the comments you might add your own thoughts, experiences, diocesan, parish guidelines and protocols, etc.

Obviously there are the usual practices for a Christian funeral. What colour do you use? [I am not in favour of the presider basing the colour on the “sanctity” of the deceased – black (non-church goer); purple (irregular church-goer); white (regular church-goer)]. Easter/paschal candle lit [I am (un)surprised to discover Anglican Churches that do not have/use an Easter/paschal candle]. A funeral Eucharist is, of course, common for a Christian – is this natural for the ordained?

  • Diocesan guidelines and protocols will, of course, not be so prescriptive as to bypass the wishes of the deceased, close family and friends. If you are ordained, have you discussed this with those close to you? And written up requests (see below)?
  • In what is the deceased vested? Alb; stole; dalmatic (deacon) chasuble (priest, bishop)…? If this is followed, IMO the vestments are ordinarily Easter vestments, white.
  • Normally lay people face East at the funeral. The ordained traditionally face West. That continues the direction that a person held in the liturgical assembly. There is also the allegorising that laity are judged by God; Christian leaders are judged by those they led.
  • Traditionally lay people are buried facing East. The ordained are traditionally buried facing West. An allegorising being that the leaders, as they rise, see who in their flock are rising. In deciding which way to bury, this tradition may be taken into account.
  • Does the diocesan bishop preside?
  • Does the diocese provide a template for funeral requests that people file with a copy of their will? Do parishes?

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10 thoughts on “funeral for ordained”

  1. Fr Stuart Tanswell

    For me it will be a Requiem Mass with black vestments. My wife knows which clergy to consult but hopefully won’t be for many years.

  2. Annelise Schroeder

    Dad’s funeral was very basic, not too much fuss, no bells and whistles. He’d decided what he wanted and organised it from beginning to end. Thankfully he had several months to prepare. Bishop Kelvin took the service (I think wearing white) and Graham Langley did a reading. I didn’t notice that anything extra or different happened because he was ordained. And he was cremated, so the whole east/west thing didn’t come into it. Just my 2c worth.

    1. Thanks so much, Annelise, for bringing in this personal, and special account. Hence my point of the person, his/her close family and friends having priority. I would also mention, in that context, that there are times when a family or close friends do not follow some of the suggestions/requests of the deceased. There may be good reasons for that. Thanks and blessings.

      1. Annelise Schroeder

        Yes, Dad’s funeral made me feel very strongly that funerals are really for those left behind. It was nice to do what he wanted, but at the same time I would have celebrated my father’s life in different ways. He was very humble and so his planned funeral had little room for eulogies. I forgot to say also that he was dressed in a plain shroud and his coffin was undressed pine with wooden handles. I liked that. Thank you for letting me ramble on about this a bit – it’s two years ago now and I’m missing him a lot.

  3. It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

    The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

    We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent
    enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of
    saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

    No statement says all that could be said.

    No prayer fully expresses our faith.

    No confession brings perfection.

    No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

    No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

    No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

    This is what we are about.

    We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

    We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

    We lay foundations that will need further development.

    We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

    We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

    This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

    It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
    opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

    We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
    builder and the worker.

    We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

    We are prophets of a future not our own.


    I have often shared on quite different occasions this prayer attributed, wrongly, to Oscar Romero but in fact written by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, for a homily by Card. John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests.

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