Remembrance of the deceased is an essential part of our faith. At every Divine Liturgy, the priest prays for the founders and benefactors of the parish and for all who have fallen asleep since time began. At the moment of death, the Church offers the funeral prayers for the remembrance of the deceased and in order to console the family at the time of death. When praying memorial prayers, the Church remembers the deceased both individually and collectively. These memorial prayers are served on the anniversary of death and also on specific days during the Church year.
Lessons from the Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church
“In funeral rites and memorial services, the Church asks the merciful God to forgive the deceased their sins and to grant their souls ‘repose in the land of the living, in the place of light, where all the saints and righteous have their rest.’ For this the Church also makes ‘atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin’ (2 Mc 12:45).” (510)
“A Christian funeral is always filled with hope for the person’s resurrection in the flesh. This is why the body of the deceased is censed, sprinkled with holy water, and otherwise shown reverence; and it is why it is carried solemnly to the church and cemetery. Those participating in the funeral procession accompany the deceased with their joint prayers to the place of burial. The hope of Christians for eternal life is expressed in the singing “Everlasting memory” which refers to God’s “remembrance” of the person. To be embraced by that memory is to remain in eternal life.” (512)
Funerals at Our Parish
When someone dies, it is important that we honour the deceased with a Christian burial. It is important that you contact the Parish Priest to let him know that the person has died and then contact a local funeral home to begin making the funeral arrangements. Most of the local funeral homes are familiar with our funeral customs but if they are unsure, they can always contact the Parish Priest who will answer any questions they may have.
Traditionally, visitations, memorial services, and funerals were all done at the Church. This also meant that the body of the deceased stayed in the Church from the evening before the funeral until the funeral day itself. While this rarely practiced in North America nowadays, if the family so wishes, the visitation and memorial services on the evening before the funeral may be served at the Church with the body remaining in Church overnight until the day of the funeral.
Customarily, a Panachyda (short memorial service) is served the evening before the funeral. On the day of the funeral, we serve the Order of Burial. While our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters have a Mass for the Deceased, our tradition does not have a Divine Liturgy or Eucharist attached to the funeral service. The Order of Burial, which is heavily based in the Psalms and various hymns of death written by the Church Fathers, is the service that we serve on the funeral. This service is an honest meditation on life and death that not only honours the deceased but also reminds the living of how precious and short life is and how life is meant to be spent in communion with God.
Near the end of the service, there is the “Final Kiss” or “Final Farewell” which is the last opportunity for those gathered for the funeral to pay their respects to the deceased. After the singing of “Everlasting Memory” (“Вічная Пам’ять”), the body is processed out of the Church and to the cemetery for the internment. After the internment, there is traditionally a memorial luncheon (tryzna) where family and friends can share memories about the deceased.
Memorial Services at Our Parish
Memorial services are customarily served on the 3rd, 9th, and 40th day after death as well as on the yearly anniversary of death. At the time of death, you can arrange to have a Divine Liturgy and Panachyda served on or about the 40th day after death. This is a great opportunity for family and friends to come together and remember the deceased.
There are also 6 Saturdays throughout the Church Year, known as All Souls Saturdays, that are days of general commemoration of the deceased. On the eve of these days (Friday evening), a Parastas is served in our parish with the commemoration of the deceased. In our parish, we have a book where each family is encouraged to write in the names of deceased family members and during the Parastas, the Priest reads all the names of the people in the book.