When Death Occurs


Catholics believe that there is an afterlife and that once a person dies they will see God face to face.


The sick and the elderly are encouraged to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick on a regular basis if they wish.  We encourage that the sacrament is received sooner than later since it is a sacrament of healing, not of the dying.  This sacrament includes anointing with Holy Oils and the reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion.  After the person has passed away a member of the pastoral team comforts the family and helps them prepare the funeral arrangements.

At the Time

When a person is close to death the family or friends may contact the parish to ask for a priest, deacon or pastoral associate to come and pray with the sick person and family/friends.  The sacrament of Anointing may be requested at this time, but it is preferred that the sick person is anointed before being close to death.  Communion may be offered at this time.  After the person has passed away the minister present comforts the family.

When a loved one has passed, contact the funeral home immediately (day or night). Once the funeral home is contacted, you will arrange a convenient time with them for their arrival. This will allow you any time necessary for those who may be want to be with you or your loved one before the funeral home arrives.

The funeral home typically contacts the church on your behalf. If not, you are welcome to call. You may wait until normal business hours to contact us at the Parish Office, (414) 425-2174. The pastoral minister or priest presiding at the funeral will arrange a meeting to prepare the liturgy.

Due to the amount of planning and preparation necessary for arrangements, it typically takes 3-5 days after contact before a funeral is held.

When planning, consider whether you would like a Funeral Mass or a Memorial Mass.

Funeral Mass/Memorial Mass

The Catholic funeral rite is called the Order of Christian Funerals or Mass of Christian Burial.  At the celebration family and friends pray for the soul of the deceased person and ask God to receive their soul into eternal glory.  The Vigil of the Deceased (a prayer service) is held the night before the funeral or a visitation can take place prior to the funeral on the day of the funeral at the church.  A funeral mass is when the body (in a casket or cremated) is present at the liturgy.  A memorial mass is when there is no body (in a casket or cremated ) present.  Many times a memorial takes place at a much later time following the death of a loved one.

Preplan Your Funeral

St. Mary encourages members to consider preplanning their funeral by meeting with the Pastor or Director of Liturgy and Music to discuss possible readings and songs for the funeral. Please contact the Parish Office to set up an appointment.