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Catholic Funeral Programs

Printed funeral programs perform two distinct roles in the funeral service. They can provide the order of service for those attending to follow. They can also act as a memorial keepsake, with photos and information about the deceased. At a typical Catholic funeral mass, the role of the funeral program is slightly different.

Here is how the Catholic funeral program may differ from one prepared for a funeral in another faith: the order of service and congregant responses for the funeral mass are typically already detailed in a printed ritual book provided by the church. The funeral program can be used to direct those attending to the ritual book during the service, while also memorializing the deceased.

In other words, you can design a personalized funeral program that reflects the life of the deceased and within that program instruct those attending the service to refer to the ritual book or the funeral mass booklet during the mass. Here’s some of the information you’ll need to collect before designing the funeral bulletin:

Place, date and time of the service
Names of the priests and other officiants
Names of pallbearers
Musician names
Place, date and time of burial service
Name of person giving eulogy (not always part of a Catholic service)

With that information in hand, you can design a personalized funeral program that records the details of the final service. You can further personalize the memorial bulletin with photos of the deceased, a quote, funeral poem or song, religious symbols and other graphics and an obituary.

It’s important to include the priest officiating the service in this process, so that he is aware you will be providing a personalized funeral program. A simple statement at the beginning of your bulletin, such as “Please refer to the ritual booklet for the order of service” will help those attending know what to expect, especially if they are not of the Catholic faith.

Personalizing a Catholic Funeral Program

We mentioned that photos, graphics and other elements can be added to the bulletin to create a memorial keepsake. Here’s a little more information on how that can be done:

Photographs for funeral programs: One or more photos can be inserted into your funeral program template, depending on which format you choose. If space allows, you may want to create photo collages with multiple photographs of the deceased. If not, a cover photo and perhaps one on the back cover can help personalize the memento.

Graphics for funeral programs: Frames, borders and images can be added to the Catholic funeral program to reflect the person’s faith as well as to enhance the beauty of the keepsake. Using clipart frames and borders you can separate sections of the bulletin, frame photos and inserted text and add visual interest. You can also insert clipart religious symbols such as crosses or doves to emphasize the person’s Catholic faith.

Adding an Obituary to a Funeral Program: Although the reading of the obituary is not always a part of a funeral mass, it’s appropriate to include one in the funeral bulletin. If the written obituary provided to local newspapers is too long for your program format, you can decide what information from it to include in a shorter obituary. If this is being done on behalf of a client, be sure to get their approval for the revised obituary.

Designing a Catholic funeral program does not have to be a difficult task. Collect details about the service and then customize the bulletin with personal elements. Add a statement guiding those attending to the printed ritual booklet so that they are able to follow the elements of the Mass. With those thoughts in mind, you will design an appropriate and personal keepsake for your loved one, friend or client.

If you are a church pastor or administrator, see our Church Resources Section for more helpful tips to help your congregation through the funeral and memorial process.

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