Funerals

Priest in purple vestments incenses a coffin

The Catholic Church offers a Catholic funeral not only for baptised Catholics, but also when appropriate, for members of their families. A Catholic funeral is always, first and foremost, a ceremony of prayer for the soul of the person who has died. It also provides an opportunity for a family member or friend to speak in memory of the deceased.

A Catholic funeral can be celebrated in any of our churches, in funeral parlour chapels, in a crematorium or even in the family home. Some families choose to have several stages: a ‘vigil’ (sometimes called a ‘wake’) the night before; the main service; the committal at the graveside or crematorium. If cremation has been chosen, a minister can also attend at a later date for the burial of the ashes.

All Hallows Church in Miskin includes a Columbarium – a low-level crypt in which caskets of ashes can be permanently laid to rest. You may wish to consider this as a suitable resting place for your loved one.

There are no longer designated ‘Catholic cemeteries’ or ‘Catholic plots’ available in South Wales. Our custom is now to bless the individual grave when a body or ashes are laid to rest.

A Memorial Mass is held each November to remember those whose died in the past year; next-of-kin from funerals celebrated throughout the Pastorate can expect to receive an invitation to this in the autumn.

Anyone, except a person who at the end of their earthly life would have objected to the idea. Our Pastorate ministers and churches will gladly host funeral rites not only for Catholics, but for family members of Catholics who were not themselves Catholic, as long as this is not in conflict with the likely wishes of the deceased.

Across the Pastorate of Our Lady of the Valleys, we have a number of trained celebrants: Pastor Gareth Leyshon; Sr Berenice O’Dwyer; lay celebrants Andrew and Wendy Marsh, and our deacon-in-training Alan de Ste Croix. In general you should contact Pastor Gareth first and in discussion about the kind of funeral which is most appropriate for your loved one, and the preferred timings, a suitable minister will be assigned.

If you have a personal connection with a Catholic minister elsewhere, then they can take part in the funeral, either by speaking at a service led by the Parish Priest, or by conducting the actual service if no member of the parish team is available on your chosen date. Please mention this to the parish minister at the earliest opportunity.

In general, you would choose a local undertaker to make the arrangements, although self-organised funerals are possible. Your undertaker will arrange all the practical arrangements with the minister conducting your funeral. The key details they will need to know are where you wish to have the main service; and if the main service is in one of our churches, do you wish to include the celebration of Mass? A requiem Mass is traditional for any practicing Catholic; it will make the church service about 20 minutes longer than the simple service of readings and prayers.

Once the undertaker has contacted the Pastorate and a minister has been assigned, that minister will want to meet with key members of the family to prepare the Order of Service.

A continuous livestream runs in All Hallows and in St Dyfrig’s. A livestream can be activated on request in our Rhondda Churches.

Your undertaker will manage the relevant fees for the minister and the church. Our standard practice in the Pastorate of Our Lady of the Valleys is to follow the practice of the Church in Wales (2024 rates) which suggest £104 payable to the minister, and when the ceremony takes place on church property, £130 payable to the parish. However in cases of hardship these fees can be reduced or waived entirely.

The Catholic Church recognises that human life is present from the moment of conception. A ceremony, which might include a retrospective act of Naming, can take place to remember any human life, however premature its end.

Human remains from a pregnancy which ended before 24 weeks’ gestation could be laid to rest in the grounds of one of our churches; please discuss this possibility with the Parish Priest.

Yes! We encourage members of our congregations to discuss their wishes with family members well-ahead of time. This avoids the awkwardness of bereaved family members feeling uncertain of what their loved one ‘would have wanted’.

Pastor Gareth will be happy to meet any member who wishes help to set their wishes in writing. Those who wish to research their own options will find good advice here. However,  please recognise that if the written wishes of the deceased person ask for something which is not permitted in a Catholic service, this will not be able to be accommodated.

Catholic funerals are acts of worship addressed to God, so the music used is traditional or modern Christian worship music and the readings are taken from the Bible. Your loved one’s favourite songs or poetry are most appropriately used at the social reception which follows, not within the Church service. Pre-recorded music is not used in church buildings, though such music can be be used before or after the committal, in the crematorium or at the graveside.

The Catholic Church also recognises that ashes are human remains and are therefore worthy of the dignity of a ‘last resting place’. This requires burial rather than scattering. A Catholic minister will happily assist in a ceremony to bury ashes but would be unable to attend to offer prayers if a family chose to scatter ashes.  An ecological alternative to traditional burial, which is approved by the Church, is ‘strewing’ – burying ashes in a biodegradable cloth rather than a wooden casket.