When a loved one dies, planning for the funeral can be a daunting task for the family. However, here at St. Michael Parish, our Funeral Ministry is prepared to take the `ohana into their care to help them make the decisions necessary at this time.

Ministry coordinator Aunty Caroline K. Smith has been involved in this service for more than eight years. Besides herself, there are eight ministry members. Their service begins when the family of the deceased calls our parish office. Their contact information is passed on to Aunty Caroline, who calls the family to arrange a meeting date and time at the church.

“At this time, we go over everything that the family wants to do regarding the funeral — whether they want a Mass or a service, and what readings and music they want to have,” Caroline says. “Our members conduct the readings, and we also advise them that the music must be liturgical. Our Music Ministry can choose the music for the funeral. We also go over what we can and cannot do with the COVID restrictions. We print up a guide sheet for them to give to their families so they have the COVID requirements, especially regarding the seating and mask use.”

The funeral date is set during this meeting, as well.

Pandemic restrictions have meant that the Funeral Ministry members seat the guests before the service, and do not bring in the immediate family until shortly before the ceremony, when they may process in with the casket or urn if they choose. The family may have a photo of the deceased displayed during the ceremony, as well as printed on the program prepared for the service.

“A lot of people come who aren’t Catholic, so the card helps them follow the service or order of Mass,” Caroline says. “Sadly, we can’t have those attending gather after the service right now.”

On occasion, several ministry members will accompany the priest of deacon to the cemetery for a brief service there.

The ministry’s care does not end on the day of the funeral. At the end of the year, all those families who have lost a loved one are sent a card acknowledging their loss and inviting them to attend the All Souls’ Day Mass in November.

The Funeral Ministry members know their work has been appreciated, thanks to the notes they receive from the ‘ohana.

“They are so grateful,” Aunty Caroline says. “So many have no idea what to do when this happens, and this is a great help. I feel good that we can help them. It’s really a rewarding ministry.”

Interested in joining the Funeral Ministry or want more information? Contact Caroline K. Smith at 808-329-3076.

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