The Rich Traditions of a Catholic Funeral

Everyone has a corner of the world they call home, and at Farenga Funeral Home, Queens is ours. New York City is generally diverse, but in Queens, we have our own beautiful tapestry of different cultures. Visitors to our borough only need to walk down Main Street to see the communities of Queens represented with bits of traditional flair. The smell of hot food from Flushing Chinatown is in the air and the sounds of students at Archbishop Molloy High School echo off the buildings.

One of the largest religious communities in the Queens melting pot is Roman Catholic. It is estimated one-third of Queens residents belong to the Catholic faith. Our borough is even home to a campus of St. John’s University, where Farenga’s owner, Gus Antonopoulos, attended college.

With a rich history that spans centuries and continents, it is no surprise the Catholic Church has intricate and unique traditions for each stage of life,
and funeral customs are no exception.

At Farenga Funeral Home, we are committed to creating services that honor cultural and religious traditions. Today, we’ll explore some of the most common Catholic funeral customs.

The three main elements comprising the Catholic funeral rites are the wake, Funeral Mass, and burial. Each event is equally important but has different significance. The wake, or vigil, occurs first. Like a visitation, it takes place the day or evening before the other ceremonies. The wake is traditionally led by a priest or deacon and includes brief readings. It is a time for family and friends to celebrate the life that was lived. Many families choose to include music, and the Farenga staff is happy to assist in selecting the perfect memorial hymn or even hiring a live musician. Both of our locations have amenities perfectly suited to host this traditional celebration.

In the Catholic Church, there are seven sacraments: Baptism, Reconciliation, Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick. The funeral ceremony is not considered an official Sacrament, but the Funeral Mass is designed to reflect the sacrament of Baptism. A priest serves as celebrant, reciting Scriptures that mirror the passages used at Baptismal ceremonies. Unless the mass is on a specified holy day, the priest also wears the same white vestments at both celebrations. To carry out this beautiful symmetry, Farenga Funeral Home can coordinate with an officiant of your choosing and work with one of the many Catholic churches in the area to host a full Funeral Mass.

The burial is the last aspect of a Catholic funeral. It is the time for the family and friends to say their final goodbyes. Catholic teaching highlights that this farewell is only temporary, as the Church believes families will reunite in the next life. The burial is a small graveside gathering following the mass. To help carry out this tradition, we offer a variety of transportation options to accommodate travel to the burial location. Should you wish to have additional music or other personal touches at this final event, simply let our staff know. We will work with you to make sure every aspect of your traditions, as well as your personal wishes, are honored. We also recommend preplanning, to make sure all of your values and religious traditions are reflected in your farewell.

When we lose a loved one, we often find comfort in traditions. Following religious customs can be a way to not only say goodbye but also to celebrate a faithful life. If you have any questions about how Farenga Funeral Home can work to include your traditions, contact us at (718) 726-6060, or visit our personalization page to see our full range of options.