Catholic Funeral Planning

Planning a Catholic Funeral is an important step in your faith journey.  Planning ahead can help ensure that your wishes will be met.

Planning ahead for your Catholic funeral is a very important step.  By planning ahead, you can have peace of mind knowing that your funeral will be celebrated according to your wishes and desires as a faithful Catholic.  We strongly encourage you to speak to your family about your funeral plans.  Most importantly, write them down, making sure that a close relative or friend knows your wishes and has received a copy.  Your loved ones can then be spared the burdens and stresses of planning during a time of grief.  Both you and your loved ones can be secure in the knowledge that your intentions are being honoured.

Click to read & print off:  Your Guide to Planning A Catholic Funeral

It is also available through the parish & local funeral homes.

Highlights include:

  • Details on The Ritual Moments – what are they, why does the funeral flow in “stages” and is considered incomplete until the Rite of Committal is celebrated?
  • Eulogies – when and where are they appropriate?
  • Cremation – is it ok for Catholics to be cremated?  Why does the Church prefer that the body is present for the Funeral Mass? Can a Funeral Mass be celebrated in the presence of cremated remains?  Helpful information and answers to your questions from Bishop Douglas Crosby, OMI
  • Catholic guidelines on scattering, division of cremated remains & retaining in the home
  • Bereavement Resources:  Helpful resources exist for coping with grief & loss.  Please contact Teresa Hartnett at the Family Ministry office of The Diocese of Hamilton:   (905)528-7988 x2250  or visit   Be sure to inquire about Bereavement support groups at local parishes and in the community.

Pre-Arranging a Catholic Funeral  

Many resources and service providers exist for helping you to begin organizing end of life plans. Options include:

In our diocese, The Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of Hamilton is available to assist Catholics with funeral planning.  This includes what is involved at time of need or when pre-planning, along with information on cremation & burial services within the cemeteries which they operate.  They can assist with understanding the various steps and service providers in a Catholic funeral plan including understanding their specific services, the role of the funeral home, the parish and the cemeteries.  Contact their office at to request or to download your complimentary Family Records Guide to help you get started with organizing.  They can help guide you in how to begin planning a Catholic funeral and to introduce you to their services which may be of assistance in your planning, such as the Holy Cross Catholic Cremation Centre, and the many Catholic cemetery locations for burial, several in close proximity to Waterloo Region.

Local funeral homes  provide very comprehensive pre-arrangement and at need services, guidance and support through planning and as the funeral plan is underway (more details on their role can be found below). They will work together with you, your parish and your chosen cemetery location in planning, co-ordinating and fulfilling your funeral wishes. A listing of funeral homes can also be found below.

Cemeteries.  Both The Catholic Cemeteries  and the local funeral home can assist with selection of specifically Catholic cremation & burial options.  The funeral homes and the local cemeteries themselves will also be able to guide on cremation services & burial through municipal cemeteries, and assist you in how to arrange for the Committal, the true completion of a Catholic funeral.  A listing of cemeteries can be found below.

Once again, pre-planning is strongly encouraged to ensure that your funeral will be celebrated according to your wishes and desires as a faithful Catholic.  It can also spare loved ones the emotional & financial burden of planning during a time of grief.

When Death is Imminent or Has Occurred – What To Do:

1.  Notifying the parish 

At time of illnessplease notify the parish office as soon as possible when a loved one takes ill, or when death is imminent.  This will allow time for Fr. Aleks to attend to the individual promptly, and to offer the Sacraments: Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick and to bring Holy Communion – so vital for profound healing and peace, especially while the gravely ill can still communicate.

When death occurs:  kindly notify the parish as soon as possible upon death of a loved one. Click for contact information.

2.  Next Steps:  Making Funeral Arrangements

    • If pre-arrangements have been made, you will need to notify the organization who holds these records (ie. they may be with The Catholic Cemeteries, the funeral home, the cemetery location etc.).  With details already in place, you will work together to see that the arrangements will be implemented as requested and any adjustments can be made.
  • If facing immediate need and funeral arrangements have not been made, you have options.  The Catholic Cemeteries or local funeral home are available for immediate contact to help guide you through the various steps you will need to take in planning for a Catholic funeral, who to contact, when etc. They will also help with clarifying the various roles that each fulfill.   In choosing cremation and the final resting place, each can explain services for Catholic cremation at Holy Cross Catholic Cremation Centre, as well as burial services in the many Catholic cemeteries throughout the Diocese.  Alternately, the local funeral home and municipal cemetery offices can discuss your options regarding cremation and burial services provided by the the municipal cemeteries.  Contact information can be found below.

Who Is Involved?   It is important to understand who is involved and what are their roles (note that variations may occur): 

    • The parish: in a Catholic funeral plan, it is the parish who plans the Funeral Liturgy.  This is typically done in a meeting of the family with the parish priest.  The  planning for a Catholic funeral will specifically include the “Ritual Moments” of:  The Vigil (often announced as “Parish Prayers” and typically held in the funeral home), The Funeral Liturgy (a Mass or Liturgy of the Word) & the Rite of Committal.  Planning will also include selection of readings, music, and related guidance. Importantly, as this time also provides for the sharing of information about the deceased with the parish priest, it also provides for a meaningful interaction of the Church with the bereaved as the priest is able to minister to the bereaved, helping the grieving to find strength, understanding, trust & hope through our Catholic faith.
    • The Funeral Home/Transfer service*:  as above, the funeral home role can be quite comprehensive, whether at need or in pre-planning.  Briefly, it involves key steps including removing the body from the place of death, preparation of the body, registration of death, transportation services, selection of casket or urn, flowers, co-ordination of visitation time(s), organizing the funeral time with the parish, organizing the reception etc.  They will work together with you, your parish and your chosen cemetery location in planning and fulfilling your funeral wishes. (* services offered vary depending on the provider – be sure to discuss options, fees etc.).  The Funeral Liturgy as mentioned, is planned with the parish.
  • The Cemetery*:    you might select a Catholic cemetery or a Municipal cemetery.  Either will provide many options for in-ground graves, mausoleum crypts, cremation niches (indoor/outdoor), urns and memorial products (benches, plaques etc.)

**A Comprehensive guide for consumers on Funerals, Burials & Cremation services is available at local funeral homes or by contacting The Board of Funeral Services at  It is always a good idea to do your research.

Choosing a Funeral Home

We are very well served by the funeral homes here in Waterloo Region and surrounding areas.  Some are independently owned, some are corporately owned.  Do some research to understand your options, the services provided (optional or mandatory by law), how the fees work, etc.

Listing of Funeral Homes in Waterloo Region:

Burial and Cremation

Burial Options. In Waterloo Region, we have a number of options to choose from for burial of either the body of the deceased or their cremated remains.  We can choose a large Diocesan Catholic cemetery close to the Region, or possibly a parish cemetery within our Region (contact them directly to determine availability as this can vary), or a municipal cemetery.  Catholics are always encouraged to consider choosing a Catholic Cemetery, a resting place of the community of the faithful who share in the hope of the Resurrection, with burial in consecrated ground. If one chooses a municipal cemetery, the grave will be blessed during the Rite of Committal, consecrating the ground to God as in the full Catholic cemeteries.  Plans for the Rite of Committal will be organized with your parish in the planning of the Funeral Liturgy, and co-ordinated as well with the funeral home.

Cremation Services.    In the Diocese of Hamilton, we have a Catholic Cremation centre, Holy Cross Catholic Cremation Centre, available to assist families with pre-need or at-need purchases of cremation services and related products such as cremation urns & burial markers.  Some of our regional funeral homes use the services of Holy Cross Catholic Cremation centre – be sure to inquire & request Holy Cross in your plans.       Local municipal cemeteries have cremation centres or use outside cremation services.  They also carry related products such as urns, markers and so on.

Choosing a cemetery

A.  Catholic Cemeteries.  In keeping with our Catholic faith tradition, our Catholic cemeteries provide burial for the community of the faithful, our brothers and sisters in Christ, buried in or on grounds consecrated to God.  Prayer for our deceased loved ones is part of our faith, and therefore Catholic cemeteries offer many prayer gardens, religious features, statues and beautiful chapels for the families and community to pray.   Regular memorial Masses are held at many of the locations, as our faith tradition provides regular prayer opportunity for the dead and their families.  Thus, they fulfill our Catholic belief that death is not the end, but a change as we leave our earthly life and begin our new and everlasting life.

Currently, several Catholic cemeteries exist in & near Waterloo Region: St. Patrick Cemetery (Galt), Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Paris (just 15 min. south of Cambridge in Paris) and Marymount Catholic Cemetery, Guelph (just 20 min from north Waterloo).  A number of parishes in the Region operate their own Catholic cemeteries and some may offer available burial beyond only to their parishioners.  These include St. Clement Parish (in St. Clement’s), St. Agatha (in St. Agatha) & St. Boniface (in Maryhill). Please inquire.

Both Holy Cross & Marymount Cemeteries each have a beautiful indoor mausoleum for this option of entombment and all season visitation.  Options also include indoor niches & outdoor columbarium options for the interment of cremated remains. Each also has a full chapel for the celebration of Mass as families, friends & the Catholic community gather to pray for the souls of the deceased.

Contact information:  The Catholic Cemeteries of The Diocese of Hamilton:     Main Office:  1.800.661.5985 or for email contact:

For information on all cemetery & mausoleum locations owned and operated by The Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton, plus a full listing of Catholic cemeteries in close proximity to Waterloo Region   Video tours are also available on the above website.

B.   Municipal Cemeteries.  A number of beautiful municipal cemeteries exist in the Region of Waterloo, some with sections noted by faith practice. Available burial options can vary if for example ground burial options are full but burial of cremated remains still exists  – ask about locations of interest and current availabilities.

Please be sure to discuss with the cemetery your options for burial in a Catholic section if available.  In your funeral planning with the parish, you will discuss the Rite of Committal, when at the burial of the loved ones, the Priest will bless the grave to consecrate the ground to God.  If you are holding on to cremated remains please know that it is never too late to arrange for this Rite – please contact your parish or The Catholic Cemeteries for assistance.

Please visit the following links for more information about our regional Municipal cemeteries:

City of Waterloo

City of Kitchener

City of Cambridge

Remember, your parish is here for you.  Please call for assistance at any time.

“Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads and 

I will give you rest.”   Matthew 11:28