Catholic Funeral Traditions in Singapore

Roman Catholicism is one of the many branches of Christianity and is also its original and largest denomination. As a result, funeral rituals between other Christian denominations and Catholic funeral services in Singapore differ to a certain degree. A Catholic funeral is a profoundly religious occasion with specific religious rites and rituals that must be performed for the departed. The prayers, Bible readings and hymns form an essential part of the mourning,  as family and friends pray for the safe passage of the deceased’s soul into the afterlife.  

Whether you are a Roman Catholic yourself, or you have friends and family belonging to the Catholic denomination,  having a general idea of the Catholic beliefs, customs, rituals and religious rites followed at a Catholic funeral service in Singapore can be beneficial. Read on to find out more about the Roman Catholic funeral services in Singapore. 

Preparations for the Funeral 

One of life’s most heartbreaking and yet all-too-common experiences is the death of a loved one. Most families go through a period of sadness, numbness and, in some cases, even guilt and anger as part of the natural grieving process. Trying to prepare a funeral while dealing with all of these complicated emotions can be extremely stressful for the bereaved. As a result, the grieving family will require the services of a funeral director to give their loved one a memorable send-off.

Consulting a competent funeral director with experience should be one of the first steps in organising a Catholic funeral service. They will not only have the expertise and the resources to plan the service for you but will also be able to guide the bereaved family through each aspect of the funeral carefully. It is also crucial to work with the priest and staff of the designated Catholic Church (the Parish of the deceased) to ensure they carry out the funeral rituals and customs in line with the Catholic faith.

Moreover, making budgets, deciding between cremation and burial, preparing the eulogy, and working out specifics for the wake, funeral mass, and committal are all critical decisions to make during a Catholic funeral.

Catholic Funeral Service Dress Code

Guests attending a Catholic funeral may dress casually as long as it is modest and dark in colour. Black or muted colours will work best. The attire should be appropriate and cover the individual’s knees and shoulders. Simple jewellery is suitable for the ceremony, but head coverings are not required.

The Wake or Vigil 

This ceremony is usually held at the church, family home, or funeral home the night before or the morning of the funeral mass. It is also known as a vigil and is organised for family and friends to pay their final respects to the departed at Catholic funeral services in Singapore.

A priest leads the service, and people pray for the deceased, read from the Bible, or recite the rosary during the wake. Visitors may perform other readings, songs, and poetry while delivering tributes and sharing memories of the deceased with loved ones. These rituals aim to bring comfort and hope to the bereaved, as the wake allows friends and family to come together and grieve and appreciate the life of the departed before the funeral mass and committal.

The Funeral Mass

Following the wake, a funeral mass will be held at a Catholic church or chapel, led by a priest. This is an essential ceremony in Catholic funerals as it reflects the soul of the deceased being returned to God and passing over into the afterlife. The individual’s loved ones pray to God for mercy and request that the deceased be allowed to enter heaven. The guests will also pray for the comfort of the bereaved family. 

According to Catholic funeral traditions, the casket is carried into the church or chapel at the start of the service. It is a meaningful gesture representing the person returning to God, and as it is carried, the priest will sprinkle Holy Water on the casket. Once inside, it is customary to place symbolic items such as the Bible or crucifix on the casket.

After the opening prayers, the priest will read religious scriptures from the Bible and speak about the resurrection and the Day of Judgement. Family and friends in the gathering can also participate in the reading. The Bible readings will be chosen by the officiating priest.

Often a holy communion will take place as part of the Roman Catholic funeral service, and anyone who is committed and baptised as a Catholic can stand to receive communion. If the family wishes, additional readings or pieces of music holding personal value can be performed after the communion.

The Burial or Cremation

During the committal, the deceased is committed to their final resting place, and more Catholic funeral traditions will take place at the burial site. The priest will wave incense over the casket, indicating prayers made to God on behalf of the deceased, as it is lowered gently into the ground. The congregation prays, and the priest recites burial readings and sprinkles holy water over the grave. 

Originally cremation was not an option for Catholic funeral services in Singapore. However, the Catholic Church at present allows cremation on the condition that the ashes are not freely scattered or stored at home. Catholics believe those who have died will come back to life on Judgement Day, and keeping the body in a single sacred site is essential for resurrection. As a result, the ashes are stored in an urn and buried in a cemetery or placed in a columbarium.

Mourning and Remembrance

Guests can express their feelings by offering condolence money or sympathy stands (floral or LED). Funerals also contain wishing trees or memory books in which people can write condolence messages and share cherished memories of the departed.

Once the funeral concludes, the bereaved family will receive visitors at their house, with guests often bringing food for days following the funeral. While the typical mourning period is 40 days, it can vary depending on family traditions. It is a time for family and community members to gather and reflect on the deceased person’s life and final moments.

Catholic Funeral Services in Singapore

Funeral directors are a competent resource that can assist in the planning of a funeral from beginning to end. They are adaptable and often try their best to accommodate the wishes of bereaved families. In a time of great stress and despair, a reliable funeral director can provide grieving families with the firm assurance they deserve.

Our professional funeral directors at A LifeGrad Funeral Services LLP have over 15 years of experience working with the bereaved. We are committed to fulfilling your loved one’s final wishes and delivering a memorable, dignified, and heartfelt funeral service. Our service offerings also include Roman Catholic funeral packages that families can personalise to match their requirements.

We handle all aspects of a funeral service, from embalming to reception setup, and provide clear and reliable information about funeral products and services to our customers. To learn more about our services, contact us at +65 6262 3086.