The Beauty of the Catholic Funeral


In neighborhoods throughout Milwaukee, Brookfield, and New Berlin, you’re bound to find families from any number of cultural and faith backgrounds. This diversity adds tremendous beauty and enrichment to our area, and it is one of the many reasons our staff at Krause Funeral Homes enjoys making Milwaukee home. We’ve been part of the landscape here for over 80 years, helping families navigate funeral, burial, and cremation options. Part of this process is helping our neighbors of different religions incorporate specific rituals and traditions as they pay tribute to their loved ones. We know how this brings peace and comfort during difficult times. Our Catholic friends and neighbors are among those whose faith plays a significant role in their funeral traditions.

Throughout the region, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has a membership of almost half a million Catholics in nearly 200 parishes. From birth to death, Catholics hold fast to many unique and meaningful religious traditions, and this includes funerals. Our staff is involved in many parishes, and knows how important it is to honor these traditions throughout the service.

In the Catholic Church, the funeral rite involves the wake, Funeral Mass, and burial, each with its own significance. The wake, or vigil, resembles a visitation, taking place the day or evening prior to the funeral itself. This is an opportunity for family and friends to gather at the church, nursing home, or funeral home and share memories of their loved one, who may be present in a casket. A priest or deacon is on hand to lead a brief vigil made up of readings, music, a short homily or sermon, and prayers for the person who died.

Following the wake, Catholics hold a Funeral Mass at a church, nursing home, or the funeral home. This service includes elements that reflect those found in baptism, forming a sacred connection between the beginning of the life and the end. At the opening of the service, the casket or urn is often covered with a pall, or white linen, bringing to mind the baptismal gown. The casket or urn is also blessed with holy water, similar to the blessing giving at baptism. Incense may also be used as a reminder of prayers rising to heaven, alongside the soul of the deceased.

Most Catholic parishes encourage the family to select hymns and Scripture readings that are meaningful to them, and that flow well with the liturgy. Families may choose to add personal touches to the funeral, from a balloon or dove release to memory tables and video tributes.

After the mass, a gathering may take place for the burial at a cemetery or mausoleum. The Catholic Church prefers their members select a Catholic cemetery, but other cemeteries may be chosen. The casket or urn is then committed to the final resting place. Often, this will be followed by a reception at the funeral home or in a church hall, when families can share memories, enjoy food, and spend time together.

For Catholics, these long-held traditions and rituals provide a sense of hope and comfort when it’s needed most. If you have questions about how our caring team can help you or your family, we’re here for you. We find that many Milwaukeeans are interested in taking control of the details of their own funeral arrangements. If you’re interested in putting your funeral plans in place, we can walk you through the process so you can get your needs and wishes in writing. Reach out to us at your convenience.

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