Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Internet Resources for Funeral Liturgies

Not the most light hearted of topics admittedly but one that I think needs further resources. My grandmother died in August 2008 and in preparing for her funeral Mass I was asked to collect some readings and a reflection piece. While my parish priest did have a "folder" of resources, I know that not all clergy do. People are becoming more and more attuned to getting information quickly and easily from the Internet (especially in making a booklet for the ceremony or having copies to distribute quickly and easily to readers-what is handier than "cut and paste"?) so I found it very frustrating when there was no website where I could easily access this information. This stuck with me and I attempted to assemble the good and the bad examples of websites for a column that was published in Intercom and has been adopted below:

Dealing with immediate aftermath of the death of a loved one is undeniably arduous. Aside from the emotional turmoil, the “practicalities” of death are thankfully unfamiliar motions for the majority of us, and are normally dealt with by a capable funeral director. The Irish Association of Funeral Directors has a well run website which offers links to its members’ websites and contact information’ as well as detailed information on the Code of Practice that all funeral directors should follow. Bereavement in Ireland has begun to feature more on the Internet, mainly because people have become used to retrieving information from the web and at times of loss this does not change. One of the more positive developments of this has been the setting up of as a considerable source of information on “end of life matters”. It features searchable death notices that are supplied by funeral directors, meaning that it considerably easier than newspaper notices to find out information about the funeral. The website also provides practical data on local and practical services. You can also send a handwritten sympathy card directly from the website. Whether this practice will prove popular in Ireland is another matter.

The majority of websites deal with the practicalities of arranging a funeral, but only a few deal with arranging a funeral Liturgy. Many priests use a folder of gathered readings and prayers to assist family members in preparing for the Requiem service, but this is not always the case and those who turn to the Internet for help may find it difficult to find suitable resources, especially when time and concentration may be constrained. One of the first websites the bereaved may turn to is’s sub-site “Requiem” page, accessible from the main menu on their home page. This site is more suited to those in the midst of the grieving process, rather than those arranging a funeral. The section on the Liturgy only contains a booklet that is customisable, but no links to readings or prayers that may be copied and pasted to the document.

One website  gives a list of readings and links to the text (though the text is the New American Bible). Several sites only give scriptural reference numbers which would only add to the workload of preparing the Liturgy. Obe website has a searchable New Jerusalem Bible (use the links to the individual books rather than the search engine), from which the text can be copied to a booklet.

An Irish website that deserves a mention for its clarity and convenience is that of Navan Parish, which provides PDF files of suitable readings, prayers of the faithful, and reflections. The first and second readings are helpfully grouped by theme, for example, “Trust in God” and “A Person of Faith”. Perhaps other parishes may find this website a helpful template for increasing the information available on their own webpages or as a supplement (or foundation) for their own Resources Folder.

Since this article was published, I have heard more and more people referring to in particular as the source for information on recent deaths, rather than death notices published in a newspaper.

No comments:

Post a Comment